Over the past 20 years, Northeast Arkansas winter weather tends to produce more ice and sleet than snow. In fact, the ice has created numerous ice storms with dire consequences to property, businesses, and local individuals.
The 2009 ice storm was the second worst in Arkansas history. The storm caused $80 million in damages statewide. Further, Arkansans are still paying for the ice storm through their utilities. KAIT reports that “Entergy Arkansas said the charge to pay off the rest of the damage done by the 2009 ice storm, which cost the company 165-200 million dollars will go on until May 2020.”
It began on Monday, January 26, 2009 before 6 p.m. By the next evening, more than 2 inches of freezing rain had fallen, snapping trees and utility poles. According to KAIT 8 News, “Despite the efforts of power crews from as far away as Texas, Colorado, Florida and the Carolinas working around the clock, some people would go without power for nearly a month.”
Blizzard conditions are rare in Northeast Arkansas, but on December 26, 2012, Clay, Greene, Lawrence, and Randolph county law enforcement reported 12-14 inches of snow with 2-3 foot drifts. According to the Pocahontas Star Herald, On Christmas Eve,
early Christmas morning, [the National Weather Service] cancelled the Winter Storm Warning and issued a Blizzard Warning for much of northeast Arkansas and parts of southeast Missouri due to the anticipated heavy snow and high winds. It was the first time the National Weather Service had ever issued a blizzard warning for this part of the country.
Fortunately, the college was closed during this weather event for the Christmas season; however, if the blizzard had occurred while classes were in session, not only would the college be closed for a few days but the many students in rural areas would have additional problems attending classes and connecting to the internet to do assignments.
Other Significant Winter Weather Events
Several other significant winter weather events have caused problems for Northeast Arkansas.
- 2016, January 22 — Lawrence and Randolph counties received up to 6 inches of snow
- 2015, March 4-5 — Snowstorm — Clay, Greene, Lawrence, and Randolph counties received up to 5 inches of snow
- 2014, March 2-3 — Winter Storm
- Randolph County received up to 4.5 inches of snow, 4.53 inches of sleet, and 0.2 inches of ice
- Lawrence County received up to 3 inches of snow and 0.25 inches of ice
- Greene County received up to 2.5 inches of snow and 3 inches of sleet
- 2013, March 21-22 — Snowstorm
- Lawrence and Randolph counties received up to 6 inches of snow
- Clay and Greene counties received up to 5 inches of snow
Thundersnow and Thunderice
A very odd phenomenon in Northeast Arkansas has occurred several times in the past 10 years. Thundersnow and Thunderice are weather events which include thunder and lightning during snow and ice storms. These phenomena are indicators of severe weather instability.
The following video is an example of thundersnow occurring in Batesville, located an hour southwest of Pocahontas. To date, no major weather issues have resulted because of this phenomenon.