Public Information Statement
Issued by NWS Little Rock, AR
NOUS44 KLZK 052003
Public Information Statement
National Weather Service Little Rock AR
200 PM CST Mon Dec 5 2016
December 4th through the 9th is Winter Weather Awareness Week
in Arkansas. The purpose of this week is to remind people
what winter weather can bring, and how to deal with
hazardous winter conditions. Now is the time to prepare
for the upcoming winter season.
Todays topic is the outlook for the upcoming winter.
Overall, winter around here has not exactly been cold in the
last thirty years. Since the winter of 1987-88, winter temperatures
were below average by at least a degree only six times. Readings
were above average by a degree or more thirteen times.
It was a Top 10 mild winter last year. Temperatures were roughly
four degrees warmer than usual. The only significant snowstorm
occurred on January 21st and 22nd, with up to eight inches of
powder in central sections of the state. Similar amounts occurred
on February 23rd and 24th, but only in the higher elevations of
the north and west. Otherwise, there was not much snow at all.
Interestingly, four of the last seven winters were colder than
usual. Local climatological data suggests that we may be cold
again this winter.
We are currently transitioning from a very strong El Nino to
a possible weak La Nina. This means water temperatures near the
equator in the Pacific Ocean have cooled significantly in recent
months. Since 1950, several such transitions have occurred. In
four of five transitions, winter temperatures were at or below
average across the state, and precipitation was at or above
average three of five times.
Transition Temperatures (El Nino to Neutral/Weak La Nina)
Winter Avg Temp +/-
1959/1960 40.7 -0.6
1966/1967 40.9 -0.4
1983/1984 36.5 -4.8
1992/1993 40.9 -0.4
2005/2006 42.8 +1.5
Transition Precipitation (El Nino to Neutral/Weak La Nina)
Winter Precip +/-
1959/1960 12.73 +0.61
1966/1967 7.83 -4.29
1983/1984 12.66 +0.54
1992/1993 12.57 +0.45
2005/2006 7.86 -4.26
While signs are pointing to a cold and somewhat wet pattern ahead,
hold on. During a textbook La Nina, colder than normal winters are
usually found up north, and it is warmer than usual in the southern
states. It is wet in the north and dry in the south.
The Climate Prediction Center, which puts out the official winter
forecast each year, is going with the textbook solution. So, in
Arkansas, the forecast calls for a normal to dry season and
temperatures in the plus category.
Whatever happens, we all know that the weather can be all over
the place in this part of the world. It can feel like spring in
January, and it can get really cold. That is an ordinary winter
in Arkansas. Do not expect anything different this time around.
If there is more precipitation than average, we will have to
watch for three things. If we are in the midst of a warm period,
be wary of severe thunderstorms, which are not unusual. If there
is a lot of rain, then flooding can become a problem. Finally,
given a well timed shot of subfreezing air, that is a recipe
for a big snow or ice storm.
There is one other thing to remember. Severe storms seem to be
the most numerous when La Nina is present. In 1999, a whopping
107 tornadoes were counted. An impressive 81 tornadoes were
generated in 2008, with 75 tornadoes in 2011. These were the
first, second, and fourth most active years on record /as far
as numbers of tornadoes/, and were also La Nina years. In two
of these years, tornadoes started spinning up in winter
/January and February/, and did not wait for spring.
The table below shows wintertime normals for Arkansas.
City Normal High Normal Low Normal Precipitation
Bentonville 48.0 25.3 8.67
Eureka Springs 47.9 28.1 8.96
Fayetteville 47.7 26.1 8.85
Harrison 48.3 28.3 8.40
Mountain Home 47.9 27.5 10.30
Jonesboro 48.2 28.1 12.03
Fort Smith 52.3 31.1 8.86
Batesville 51.0 26.9 11.48
Newport 47.8 31.0 12.44
Russellville 52.9 30.6 11.59
Searcy 51.1 29.2 12.28
Conway 51.5 29.5 12.18
Mena 51.5 29.6 12.84
Hot Springs 52.4 33.3 13.30
Little Rock 52.6 33.1 12.18
North Little Rock 51.7 34.7 12.09
Pine Bluff 53.4 33.9 14.10
Camden 56.5 32.2 14.12
Magnolia 56.2 33.3 14.07
Monticello 55.4 35.6 15.30
Warren 54.8 33.4 15.84
Texarkana 56.0 35.8 12.44
El Dorado 56.6 34.8 14.27
Additional information on the winter outlook for Arkansas can be
found at http://www.weather.gov/lzk/winlook1617.htm