Monday, December 31, 2012

Top 5 of 2012

TWITTER: KATV_WEATHER


While we have definitely had memorable weather events this year, 2012 has been quiet when compared to other years. 

For example, Arkansas recorded 18 tornadoes in 2012.  This is well below the average of 33.  There were NO deaths as a result of tornadoes, thunderstorm winds, or lightning.  However, there were two flash flood fatalities.  According to National Weather Service statistics, the last time we had fewer tornadoes was 2007 when only 16 occurred.

With all that said, it was still busy at times.  Here are the top 5 weather events of the year.

5. Hot Springs Downburst.

On August the 5th, a thunderstorm collapsed over downtown Hot Springs sending out an enormous wind gust which was estimated around 80 mph.  There were around 100 structures damaged due to the high winds.  The only good news about this huge gust of wind was a significant blast of cooler air.  Temperatures dropped from 105 degrees to the upper 70s in just a few short minutes.

Downtown Hot Springs damage.
Structural damage from the winds estimated at 80 mph.
4. January 22nd tornadoes.

7 tornadoes caused plenty of destruction on this winter day across southern Arkansas.  One storm produced 5 of those tornadoes across a 6 county area.  Hardest hit areas included the north side of Fordyce.  Also, a 150 year old church in Kingsland was destroyed.  At the end of the day, there were 4 EF1 tornadoes and 3 EF2 tornadoes.

Damaged church in Kingsland.
HUGE hail in Brinkley
3. The remnants of Isaac.

In the middle of a persistent drought, the remnants of Hurricane Isaac pushed across Arkansas with much needed rain.  However, some places got more than they wanted which is typical when it comes to a tropical system.  One rain band set up over Pine Bluff and dumped several inches of rain in a very short  amount of time.  The result was a rare "flash flood emergency" issued by the NWS for that portion of the state.  Pine Bluff received 8.39'' while White Hall received 10.70''.

Here's the actual text from the warning...

"...THIS IS A FLASH FLOOD EMERGENCY FOR THE PINE BLUFF AND 
   FORDYCE AREAS...

* AT 948 AM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR CONTINUED   
  TO INDICATE A BAND OF SHOWERS AND ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS FROM      
  LONOKE TO PINE BLUFF AND FORDYCE. VERY HEAVY RAIN WAS OCCURRING    
  WITH THIS BAND OF PRECIPITATION. RAIN WAS FALLING OVER AREAS       
  THAT RECEIVED FOUR TO MORE THAN SEVEN INCHES OF RAIN               
  SINCE THURSDAY. 

  THIS IS FLASH FLOOD EMERGENCY FOR THE PINE BLUFF AND FORDYCE 
  AREAS.

  MANY ROADS WERE UNDER WATER IN THE PINE BLUFF
  AREA. SANDBAGGING OF HOMES WAS OCCURRING LOCALLY. A COUPLE 
  OF CARS WERE FLOATING DOWN HIGHWAY 63. AT FORDYCE...LAW
  ENFORCEMENT REPORTED HOUSES THREATENED BY HIGH WATER AND
  EXTENSIVE STREET FLOODING. THIS IS A SERIOUS SITUATION."
 
Flash flooding in Pine Bluff
 
2. Summer drought and wildfires.

It was another long and hot summer with temperatures reaching the century mark 28 times in Little Rock.  The horrible and record breaking summer started on June 24th.  The hottest day in Little Rock was on July 30th when the mercury soared to 111 degrees.  The drought was categorized as "exceptional" by the National Weather Service for most of the state.  Firework displays were banned as wildfires raged.  By August, it started to get better as welcomed rainfall from storms and Isaac helped ease the situation.

One of many wildfires.
I saved the current conditions when we reached the scorching 111 degrees.
Smoke plumes from wildfires were common all over the state.
1. Christmas Snowstorm/Blizzard.

There were so many records broken by this rare storm.  The day started cold and windy with persistent sleet and freezing rain.  The trees in central Arkansas received a heavy coating of ice.  By late in the afternoon, the ice changed to snow and it was heavy.  10-15 inches fell across portions of central and western Arkansas.  The combination of ice, wind, and heavy snow caused devastation to trees and power lines.  At one point, more than 200 thousand lost electricity and it took 7 + days to restore all of it. 

It did become an official blizzard for northeast Arkansas and the first time a "blizzard warning" was issued by the Little Rock National Weather Service office.  The highest snow total was in the town of Perry in Perry county.   An incredible 17.5'' of snow fell. Here's a list of the records...

  • The 10.3 inches which fell in Little Rock was the most for a 24 hour period in the month of December.
  • The 9.0 inches which fell on December 25th was the 8th most snow to fall in a calendar day in Little Rock
  • The 10.3'' on the 25th and 26th was the 6th most in history for a 24 hour period in Little Rock.
  • It was the snowiest Christmas Day ever in Little Rock shattering the previous record.

Rare snow rolls which are chunks of snow blown around in the wind and get bigger.

Just 1 of the 1000's of pictures we received which shows the beauty and destruction at once.
Another beautiful shot

KATV viewer picture
Travel was tough
This makes you want to ski Pinnacle Mountain huh?
From Greg Davis.  A stunning picture of the Old State House.

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