Weather Blog: February Monthly Review

Weather Blog

Review of February 2021's weather in NW Arkansas & the River Valley

February 2021 was one to remember for many. Here is a recap of the weather across Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley.

Temperatures

Last month ranked as the 2nd COLDEST on record for Fayetteville (Drake Field) with the mean daily temperature being 8.5°F BELOW average at 31.3°F. That’s right, our average daily temperature in Fayetteville was below freezing!

Fort Smith, AR was also 8.5°F below average for the mean daily temperature at 35.7°F. This places February 2021 as the 7th COLDEST on record.

Sledding in Siloam Springs, AR. Image: Suzanne Fleming

Majority of the cold was from the arctic blast that impacted the region in the middle of February. Fayetteville, AR did not make it to or above freezing for nine days straight (February 10-19).

Fort Smith, AR saw an eight day stretch with temperatures below freezing for the entire day (February 11-19).

The coldest day was February 15 when Fayetteville’s official daily high was only 4°F and Fort Smith’s daily high was 11°F. That is 41.6°F and 39.2°F below average the daily average respectively.

A Lot Of Temperature Records Broken!

The morning of February 16, 2021 was one of the coldest on record for Fayetteville. The morning low was -20°F, the coldest ever recorded at the Drake Field site. Fort Smith’s morning low on February 16 was -8°F.

Snowy landscape. Image: Tom Bramlett

New daily records for the lowest high temperature were set at Drake Field in Fayetteville for five straight days:

  • February 12: 20°F
  • February 13: 18°F
  • February 14: 12°F
  • February 15: 4°F
  • February 16: 20°F

New record daily low temperatures were also set in Fayetteville for three days straight:

  • February 14: 3°F
  • February 15: -8°F
  • February 16: -20°F (coldest temperature recorded at Drake Field)

Record low temperatures were recorded on February 19 (-4°F) and February 20 (7°F) for Fayetteville as well.

Kessler Mountain snow. Image: Wade Espenschied

Fort Smith saw new daily records for lowest high temperature for six days straight:

  • February 12: 29°F
  • February 13: 28°F
  • February 14: 19°F
  • February 15: 11°F
  • February 16: 20°F
  • February 17: 24°F

We also had three daily record lows set in Fort Smith on February 14 (10°F), February 15 (-1F°), and February 16 (-8°F).

Icy Beaver Dam. Image: Joe Ferguson

Precipitation

In the precipitation department, we were actually well below average for both Fayetteville and Fort Smith. Drake Field only recorded 0.97 inches of rain during the month (includes all snowfall equivalents).

Fort Smith saw only 1.32 inches of rain (includes all snowfall equivalents). How is this possible when Drake Field recorded 6.9 inches of snow and Fort Smith recorded 6.0 inches of snow for the month?

Frozen bubble by Amanda Tieaskie

The answer is very high snow-liquid ratios. In the case of the February 14-18 snowstorm, the extreme cold caused our snowfall ratios to be around 25:1, meaning it would take 25 inches of snow to equal 1 inch of rain.

February 14-18 Snowstorms

Wesley & Olivia on a 4-wheel adventure in the snow. Image: Angela Villegas

Two snowstorms impacted NW Arkansas and the River Valley on February 14-15 & February 16-18. In total, the region saw anywhere from 6-10 inches of snow on the ground by the end of the day on February 18.

The extremely cold temperatures with a very favorable storm system track helped create the perfect combination for a major winter storm in NW Arkansas.

Snow accumulations across Arkansas from the February 14-15 & February 16-18 snowstorms. The snow totals are a combination of both storm systems.

The track of the second storm (February 16-18) was perfect to drop over 6 inches of snow across central Arkansas. NW Arkansas and the River Valley escaped the heaviest of the snow due to the southerly track of the storm system.

Snow Accumulation Totals from NWS Tulsa.

The first round of snow was the heaviest for NW Arkansas and the River Valley with widespread 3-5 inches of snow being reported. A few localized areas picked up around 6 inches from this storm.

The second round of snow produced less snow due to the center of the low taking a farther track to the south.

Snowy sunset near Northwest Arkansas National Airport. Image: Pamela Ausmus

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