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Drying up: Growing Drought Concerns in Arkansas

Weather watchers keeping an eye on effects of hot weather and not enough rain.
LITTLE ROCK, AR - The soaring temperatures of July combined with very little rainfall are leading to developing drought conditions in parts of Arkansas.

While some rain fell from isolated thunderstorms Wednesday afternoon and evening, the National Weather Service (NWS) in Little Rock says Arkansas has missed out on most of the rain that has fallen over the southeast United States recently.

During the first week of July (through the 6th), more than eight inches of rain (8.32 inches) was measured at Asheville, NC. Other amounts included 7.17 inches at Pensacola, FL, 3.98 inches at Nashville, TN, and 3.82 inches at Atlanta, GA.

Thirty-day rainfall from June 7th through July 6th was less than a half-inch at some spots. Camden (Ouachita County) had 0.08 inch, with 0.10 inch at Conway (Faulkner County), 0.21 inch at Rohwer (Desha County), 0.37 inch at Hope (Hempstead County), 0.40 inch at El Dorado (Union County) and 0.47 inch at Little Rock (Pulaski County). Most of these locations are in the southwest half of the state.

Parts of the northeast fared better. Two to four inches of rain (and locally more) fell at Blytheville (Mississippi County), Greers Ferry Lake (Cleburne County), Jonesboro (Craighead County) and West Memphis (Crittenden County).

As rain shut off, vegetation started drying out. A moderate wildfire danger exists as of today in 69 of 75 counties (the wildfire danger remained low across 6 counties in the northeast). Burn bans have been issued for 13 counties (Clark, Cleveland, Garland, Howard, Independence, Jefferson, Johnson, Newton, Pope, Saline, Searcy, Sharp and Yell Counties).

In Marion County, the first cutting of hay in the spring was a record harvest according to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service. This dry spell delayed a second cutting because grass stopped growing. The turf was turning brown in Newton County. Irrigation has become the norm across the region to keep crops alive.

While it appears a drought is inevitable, it was a lot worse a year ago. The heat was unbearable and unrelenting during the last week of June. On the 28th, the mercury topped out at 109 degrees at Mountain Home (Baxter County), Russellville (Pope County) and Searcy (White County). All-time record highs for June were set at Harrison (Boone County) and Little Rock (Pulaski County). It was 107 degrees at both places.

Click here to see the latest drought monitor. It is updated every Tuesday, so the rain from yesterday's scattered thunderstorms is not included.
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