Severe Drought Reported in Northwest, Southwest Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, AR – Severe drought conditions are reported in Northwest and Southwest Arkansas.

The areas have seen very little rain since June.

The National Weather Service in Little Rock explains what’s happening in detail on its website. Part of the explanation is below.

What started as a promising year for appreciable rain has turned into something Arkansas has dealt with every year since 2010. Drought is back, and umbrellas have not been needed much in the last month to month-and-a-half (short-term).

There were quite a few spots that received less than an inch of precipitation in the last 30 days (June 16th through July 15th). Little Rock (Pulaski County) tallied 0.25 inch, with 0.51 inch at El Dorado (Union County), 0.53 inch at Hot Springs (Garland County), 0.54 inch at Fayetteville (Washington County), 0.58 inch at Texarkana (Miller County) and 0.99 inch at Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). These totals were generally 3 to 4 inches below normal.

The previous 30 days (May 17th through June 15th) was more kind (maybe even too kind in places), with several deluges and much higher totals. Fort Smith (Sebastian County) got 6.95 inches during this time frame, and Jonesboro (Craighead County) was not far behind with 6.86 inches. That pushed 60 day (May 17th through July 15th) numbers into positive territory at these locations (in northeast and west central Arkansas).

This dry spell has been the most persistent (long-term) in the northwest (Ozarks) and parts of the southwest, with rainfall in the negative category not only the past 60 days (May 17th through July 15th), but also for the year. Texarkana (Miller County) was already behind by more than 10 inches for 2013. Incredibly, the deficit at this site is over five feet (64.59 inches) since 2010!

As rain shut off, vegetation started drying out. There was a moderate wildfire danger in 69 of 75 counties by July 17th (the wildfire danger remained low across 6 counties in the northeast). Burn bans were issued for 34 counties, and the list was growing.

Given worsening conditions, moderate to severe drought (D1/D2) conditions were identified in much of western and central Arkansas. There was no drought as of yet in the northeast.

Despite a phenomenal first cutting of hay in the spring, a second cutting was delayed because grass stopped growing (too dry). This was according to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service. Cattle producers are worried about a short hay supply this summer if rain does not return. Irrigation became the norm across the region to keep crops alive.

Drought indicators were showing warning signs (i.e. a decreasing ground water supply). Soil moisture was dropping below normal across all but the northeast.

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