More Cold Weather Arriving in Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, AR - After a warm weekend, it's back to the cold this week in Arkansas.

More Arctic air begins moving in this afternoon, along with some high winds. Some Monday morning gusts were reported as high as 30mph.

FOX 16 Meteorologist Greg Dee says we may see snow flurries Tuesday but it's just too cold and dry to get more white stuff than that. 

High temperatures today will struggle to make it into the upper 20s across northern Arkansas with central and southern parts of the state only making it into the 30s and 40s. 

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Little Rock says it's been a cold winter thus far. December finished 1 to 2 degrees below normal in most areas. Readings were 2 to 4 degrees in the minus category through the first twenty five days in January.

Arkansas went through several significant arctic blasts during this time frame. The first blast yielded the coldest high temperature (20 degrees) so early in the season at Harrison (Boone County) on Dec. 6. The following morning, it was 5 degrees. The second blast kept afternoon readings in the single digits across portions of the Ozark Mountains on Jan. 6. By dawn the next day, the mercury hit 9 degrees at Little Rock (Pulaski County). It was the first time in the single digits locally since Feb. 1996.

More recently, Canada visited on Jan. 21. Afternoon temperatures failed to reach freezing toward the Missouri border. At 3 p.m., readings ranged from 26 degrees at Harrison (Boone County) and Mountain Home (Baxter County) to 44 degrees at El Dorado (Union County) and Texarkana (Miller County).

Earlier in the day, there were a few snow flurries in the far north. Gusty north to northwest winds produced wind chill index values near zero in the northwest counties.

It was even colder on Jan. 23. Thermometers showed 20s/30s statewide during the daytime, with some teens in the far north. Like Jan. 21, there was no appreciable snow (other than flurries) or ice and a lot of wind. Morning wind chill indices were between zero and ten below zero in the northwest. 

From Jan.10-25, there was little to no precipitation measured at area reporting sites. These big cold air masses made it way too dry for much to fall from the sky. A low wildfire danger reached moderate/high status, and county burn bans increased at an alarming rate (up to 42 of 75 counties).

Through Jan. 25, one to more than two inch precipitation deficits were noted in parts of the south/west. This included El Dorado (Union County), Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) and Texarkana (Miller County).

Arkansas has been sandwiched between a ridge of high pressure to the west and a trough of low pressure to the east. Between these features, the flow from Canada has driven cold fronts and surges of arctic air southward. That explains why temperatures have been subpar as a whole.

Between these surges, there were short-lived warmups. For example, it felt like spring on Jan. 20. Those with outdoor plans were treated to highs in the 60s to around 70 degrees. Winds started picking up toward evening as a shot of arctic air (arriving the next day) loomed on the horizon to the north.

For the last days of January, there will be another visit from the north on Jan. 27/28. This will probably keep temperatures from rebounding much through Jan. 31, and will guarantee a dry end to the month.

Heading into February, the subtropical jet (flow from the southwest) will emerge. We have not seen this for awhile. Typically, systems from the southwest provide warmth/moisture during winter as they dredge air northward from the Gulf of Mexico. Temperatures could climb well above normal during the first few days.

At the same time, visits from Canada will not stop. Any systems from the southwest will become energized as cold and warm air masses collide. This will lead to better chances for precipitation. One such system may get going by as early as Feb. 4/5. For those looking for snow, this is a possibility.

As the month progresses, it appears mild days may outnumber cold days. That is in the going long range forecast. Also, there is some confidence that precipitation will be at/above normal through the early spring. 

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