Merry Christmas and happy holidays! Well, Mother Nature decided this year was not going to be a White Christmas by a long shot. The unusually warm temperatures across NW Arkansas and the River Valley make it feel like anything but a typical Christmas. Speaking of which, what is a typical Christmas in NW Arkansas and the River Valley?
Northwest Arkansas (Fayetteville, AR)
A normal NW Arkansas Christmas would consist of a high temperature at 48°F and a 24-hour low temperature of 28°F. We are certainly much warmer than that today. In fact, we might break a record-high this afternoon. The warmest high temperature recorded for Fayetteville on Christmas Day was 72°F back in 1955. The warmest 24-hour low temperature on Christmas Day was 56°F just five years ago in 2016.
TV shows and movies love to paint Christmas as a time of year when snow is covering the ground and you need to bundle up from head to toe. Usually, Northwest Arkansas would pass the test (at least temperature-wise) for your standard Christmas scene. Our average low temperature for Christmas Day is 26°F. We will have to until tomorrow morning, but this year has an opportunity of breaking the warmest 24-hour low for Christmas Day.
As mentioned earlier, if the temperature does not drop to 56°F or lower by 1 A.M. December 26, we will have a new official warmest low temperature for Christmas Day. If you are wondering what the coldest high temperature was for December 25, a bone-chilling 7°F was the warmest it got on Christmas Day in 1983. The overall coldest temperature recorded for Christmas in Fayetteville was brutal -8°F that same year (and that’s not including the wind chill).
In the precipitation department, the rainiest Christmas in NW Arkansas was in 1987 when 2.16″ fell from the sky. The most snow to actually fall on Christmas in Fayetteville was 46 years ago when 4.0″ was measured at Drake Field. Remember the Christmas of 2009? That’s when the last official White Christmas in NW Arkansas. A White Christmas occurs when at least 1.0″ of snow is on the ground at 7 A.M. Christmas morning.
River Valley (Fort Smith, AR)
Christmas Day in the River Valley is generally a bit warmer than NW Arkansas. The average high in Fort Smith on December 25 is 50°F and the average low temperature is 30°F.
The highest temperature recorded in Fort Smith, AR on Christmas was over 130 years ago in 1889 when 75°F was reached. That record could be in jeopardy this year as temperatures will likely reach the mid-70s Christmas afternoon. The lowest temperature recorded on Christmas for the River Valley is -1°F in 1983.
The coldest Christmas high temperature was also in 1983 when the highest temperature recorded that Christmas was 10°F. The warmest 24-hour temperature recorded on Christmas was also over 130 years ago in 1889. The lowest the mercury fell was 61°F.
Fort Smith’s rainiest Christmas was in 1888 when just under 2″ of rain fell. The most snowfall we had on Christmas itself in Fort Smith was 6.7″ in 1975, but the last official White Christmas was in 2012.
We hope you enjoyed this little look back at Christmas history in our area. Thank you for trusting us with your NW Arkansas and River Valley forecast. We wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, a happy holiday season, and a healthy New Year.