LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Now that we have wrapped up 2020, let’s look back at the weather aspect of things. Thankfully, 2020 wasn’t loaded with many significant weather events for Arkansas but there are a few worth mentioning.
Let’s start with tornadoes. 2020 was an above-average year and the most tornadoes we have recorded in a year since 2011. Even with the higher count, we reported zero deaths. That in itself is an amazing thing especially when you look back at the strongest tornado of the year which occurred on March 28th.
On March 28, 2020, severe weather was forecast to take place mainly across eastern Arkansas. There was one storm cell in particular that became tornadic in Jackson and Woodruff counties in northeast Arkansas. This same storm led to the EF3 rated tornado that moved through parts of Jonesboro. Wind speeds were estimated to be near 140 MPH making it the strongest tornado since April 27, 2014.
Below is a video of KAIT 8 covering this tornado live on the air using a tower camera. Incredibly, no one was killed. Some of the reasoning as to why there were no deaths is because of the pandemic. At this point in the pandemic, many locations had closed leading to more people being at home while this tornado moved through an area that would typically be very populated on a Saturday afternoon.
Just a few weeks later, we had another severe weather event that impacted more of the state. On Easter Sunday night, we had a strong line of showers and thunderstorms moving across Arkansas. Straight-line wind speeds ranged from 60 to 100 mph.
Due to heavy rainfall soaking the soils and fresh leaves on the trees for Spring, this high wind event ended up being quite significant aiding to more than 100K without power. While some were without power for a couple of days, it lasted nearly a week for many.
The final highlight for the year would be excessive rainfall many recorded across the state. More than 80% of the state recorded 10 to 20 inches abovenormal yearly rainfall amounts.
Polk county recorded some impressive rainfall totals. Areas near Mena measured anywhere from 85 to 100 inches of rain!
Why so much rain? Both the spring and summer seasons this year ended up being above normal which helped with these totals but the above-average tropical season also played a major role.
Moving on to weather stats for Little Rock, this was the third year in a row to have an average temperature that was below normal.
The hottest temperature recorded for 2020 was 97°F. This was the second year in a row that we failed to achieve a temperature in the triple digits. Excessive rainfall was helpful in this to keep temperatures more regulated but it also meant that it was very humid.
Below is monthly graphics for temperature and rainfall for Little Rock.