Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Top 10 Weather Events of 2010

This was updated Saturday January 1, 2011

Thanks to the National Weather Service Office in North Little Rock for providing some of the information below.

10. May 1st Severe Weather

The Storm Prediction Center placed much of the southeast half of the state under a rare, high risk for severe weather.  Everyone was on edge due to the outbreak of deadly tornadoes the day before.  Barry and Ned were in the weather center and on the air for hours while the WeatherNinja and I decided to chase the storms.  Storms fired up all over the place with rotation in many of them.  However, most only produced funnels.  There were 6 tornadoes across the state with most of them rated EF1.  The WeatherNinja and I started our chase in Pine Bluff along with dozens of chasers from across the country including the Discovery Channels "Dominator".  We ended up seeing a funnel cloud in southeast Arkansas.  We stopped in the town of Gould while a lowering and possible funnel was clearly seen off to the east.

Apparent wall cloud in the distance from our storm chase.  Looking east from Gould.

Viewer picture of a wall cloud near Mayflower
Traveling behind the Discover Channel's Dominator in Pine Bluff

9.  March 21st Snow

Spring kicked off with a snowstorm for much of western and northwestern Arkansas.  Just days prior to this storm, temperatures soared into the 60s and 70s.  The brutal winter would have one last laugh. Up to 12 inches piled up in the Fayetteville area.  Our own Channel 7 storm chaser and blogger, WeatherNinja, went snow chasing on Rich mountain near Mena.  When he arrived, it was almost a blizzard with snow, wind, and low visibility.  Check out this chilling video!


8. Late January Snow/Ice 

On January 28th and 29th, we had what I like to call an "Arkansas Slushy".  Every type of winter precipitation fell across a majority of the state as low level arctic air moved in from the northeast and a storm system from the west brought moisture.  The biggest concern was freezing rain and that fell across portions of Garland, Hot Spring, Grant, Arkansas and Jefferson counties causing 30,000 customers to lose power.  In the Little Rock metro area, it was sleet.  The power stayed on, but roads were horrible as 1-2 inches piled up.  Further north the cold air was deep enough for snow.  Some locations in northern Arkansas had 12 inches or more by the time this storm system left the state.

Blake in the sleet.  I plan on bringing this picture out on his 16th birthday.
7. Drought and Wildfires

2009 was the wettest year in Little Rock history, but 2010 was dry.  Like I always say, there's nothing normal about Arkansas Weather.  Many locations will end 2010 with a large rainfall deficit including Little Rock which is close to 15 inches in the hole.  The lack of rain eventually took its toll on the state and wildfires started popping up all over the place during autumn.  According to the Arkansas Forestry Commission, more than 32 thousand acres burned.  One notable fire occurred in Traskwood (Saline county) on October 10th.  I remember looking at the radar and seeing a smoke plume develop.  The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management said more than 500 people were evacuated.  Downwind from the fire, balls of ash fell on neighborhoods.

This video was shot by blogger and Channel 7 storm chaser , Bobby Powers.  He's also known as "WeatherClipper"


Viewer picture of Traskwood wildfire

A ball of ash falls downwind of the fire
Doppler radar shows the smoke plume as it drifts towards Benton and Little Rock


6. March 10th Tornadoes

Six tornadoes hit the state on this late winter day.  A man died from a tornado in the small town of Pearson in southern Cleburne county. That tornado was rated an EF2.  Another tornado injured two people in White county as an EF1 with a path length of 13.24 miles tracked near Center Hill.  Another notable tornado that evening was in Saline county.  An EF1 tornado tracked from .8 miles south-southwest of Grape to .8 mile northwest of Congo.  The path length was 6.12 miles.  This tornadic thunderstorm was on a direct path to West Little Rock.  While covering the tornadoes with Ned on the air, I'll never forget reaching over for my cell phone, calling my wife, and telling her to take cover.  Thankfully, the storm curved a bit to the north and stopped producing a twister.

Viewer picture of the tornado in Saline county

5. February 8th Snowstorm

It was suppose to be purely a north Arkansas snowstorm, but the night before I cautioned everyone, while on the news, that one or two degrees means everything between lots of rain and lots of snow.  Leading up to the snowstorm, one of the computer models insisted central Arkansas would get clobbered by heavy amounts of snow and it nailed it!  

It became obvious around 11 PM on February 7th as some of the biggest sleet pellets I have ever seen started to fall.  This was going in the direction of a winter wonderland.  By the time the next morning rolled around, 2-3 inches of snow was already on the ground.  By the end of the day, Little Rock officially recorded 7.2 inches making it the biggest snow since December of 1988.  A few locations across northern Arkansas received up to 12 inches or more.



One viewer picture of a GIANT snowman.

4. April 30th Tornado Outbreak

On the night of April 30th, we all watched the radar as a tornadic supercell took aim on Van Buren county and the town of Clinton.  This time, the twister just missed the town, but it demolished the small community of Scotland located 9 miles southwest of Clinton.

The tornado tore a 20.28 mile long path and was rated an EF3 with winds of 135-165 mph.  There was one fatality and 15 injuries from this storm.  Another tornado struck the East End community in Saline county.  This storm continued to show strong rotation through Pulaski county.  I directed the WeatherNinja into the storm as he streamed live video.  Once his video was on the air you could see trees bent over touching the ground along with power flashes.  The only words you could hear him say was, "I'm in it." There were a total of 12 tornadoes that day across the entire state.

Tornado near Scotland April 30th

Damage from the EF3 twister
3. New Year's Eve Tornado and Severe Weather

Unfortunately we had to change the top 10 list as a powerful storm system brought a deadly New Year's Eve to the state.  Early in the morning, an EF3 tornado killed 3 people in the small community of Cincinnati in Washington county. This one tornado more than doubled the number of tornado fatalities during the entire year for the state. The severe weather diminished for much of the day, then developed again across the eastern and southeastern counties.  One thunderstorm tracked near Star City and produced large hail.  It even covered the ground.  Check out the pictures below.

Tornado damage in Cincinnati, AR

Sheree King near Star City
Lisa Pevey near Star City
2. Summer Heat
It gets hot in Arkansas every year, but the summer of 2010 was a record breaker! According to the Arkansas Department of Health, there were 21 heat related deaths in the Natural State. A persistent ridge of high pressure aloft dominated our weather from June into August keeping Arkansas in a pressure cooker.  The total amount of rain during the summer months of June, July, and August only reached 5.08''.  The average for those three months is 10.19''.  By the end of the long, hot summer, Little Rock officially had its hottest summer on record by average temperature... 85.8 degrees.  The persistence of the heat combined with a long string of warm overnight lows boosted us into the record books.  The heat reached its peak on August 3rd as the mercury soared to a breathtaking 107 degrees in Little Rock.  To see all the other records broken, check out the graphic below.  Let's hope for a better summer next year! 
1. Albert Pike Recreation Area Flash Flood It's ironic one of the worst flooding disasters in our state history occurred in a year with a significant drought.  We will all remember waking up on June 11th to the news of catastrophic flooding during the overnight hours in a remote section of southwestern Montgomery county.  The news continued to get worse throughout the day as bodies were found.  Once search and rescue completed their task, 20 were found dead.  24 others were injured. A slow moving area of low pressure aloft produced significant flooding in Texas just days prior to its arrival in Arkansas.  As the storm system moved across western Arkansas, it produced rainfall in excess of 2 inches per hour.  Over the course of a few hours, rainfall amounts reached 7 inches.  One of our bloggers, Devin, lives in the area and says 9'' fell in his location that night.  There were several factors that came together to produce this 500 year flooding event: rainfall rates, terrain, time of day, and remote location away from current information. The campground sits on the edge of the Little Missouri River.  A river gauge located downstream at Langley recorded the amazing rise of the river.  At 2 AM, the river was at 3.81 feet.  By 5:30 AM, it rose to 23.39 feet.
Photo courtesy of Meteorologist John Robinson of National Weather Service
TO SEE MORE PICTURES CLICK HERE In the video below, radar shows moderate rain during the early evening hours.  Starting at about 1 AM, watch the deep reds (very heavy rain) continuously develop in the same place for 3 hours.



Anonymous said...

im from langley and we got 9 inches of rain that night.

Anonymous said...

nice work todd very nice, u did a great job now work on getting us SNOW in little rock this year and lots of it lol

Amy said...

Wow!! Great job, Todd! What a wild weather year we had!! Thanks for the great info!! Here's to a snowy 2011!!

Snowbird Bob said...

Hello Everyone, Gtreat job Todd, I know that took alot of time & work. I am sure everyone really enjoyed it, If you all would like to take a look at my long range forecast for the month of Jan. you can go back to the older post, I just posted yesterday. I think Jan. is going to be a much better month for extreme cold & winter weather for the state of Arkansas. We Shall See... Happy New Year Everyone

Jason H said...

Great job Todd. What a boring next seven days after these storms come threw.Im moving.

Shack said...

A really fantastic job putting all of that together Todd, kudos to you!

I hope you have a new notepad ready for 2011 to start writing down the potential list notes for 2011 :)

Everyone be safe and wishcast snow for sometime in the new year!


nlrweatherman said...

I'm going storm chasing in eastern Arkansas tomorrow. According to NWS in Memphis its the best area for severe wx. Wish me luck!!!

The Weather Fanatic said...

Hats off again Todd to a great post! Is that Ninja in the snow igloo from the Feb snow? LOL.

Looking back, we sure had a lot of events take place. It wouldn't be Arkansas if we didn't! While I was on vacation a few weeks back in Arizona, I got bored with the weather there and this is their active season! The weather was brilliant, but not enough excitement for the Fanatic LOL. I really do appreciate the 4 seasons that we have in the Natural State.

I hope that we can start the New Year off to us snow-lovers liking and bring a couple of inches in before the days get longer and temps warm up. We shall see what January brings-right Snowbird?! My personal thinking is that we see a late February or Early March snow in Central Arkansas this season, kind of like we did a few years back but who knows? Only mother nature.

What I will remember most about 2010 is the ridiculous summer. I (as many of you know) am not a fan of the heat and prefer it to be in the 80's with little humidity if possible-ha!! I'm still in dreamland. The fact that we had more fatalities due to the heat than we did the fatal flooding at Albert Pike does surprise me. Let's hope that we don't have a repeat flood like this again anytime soon. It was a 500 year flood, so the odds are we won't.

I hope everyone has a Happy New Year and watch out early New Years Eve afternoon as Mother Nature will have some of her own fireworks to close out 2010.

jimmylee42 said...


Like to ditto the kudos expressed above. Hope the top ten weather events are interesting but not tragic like some of them in 2010.

Just heard about the deaths from tornado in NW Ark this morning. Terrible news.

NOAA Winter Guidance