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Feb. 16, 2021
By Ryan McGeeneyU of A System Division of Agriculture
LITTLE ROCK — Temperatures plunged to record lows across Arkansas Tuesday morning,
falling to single digits or even negative numbers, even in the southernmost reaches
of the state.
Jeff Hood, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in North Little Rock, said
some areas of the state reported lows more than 10 degrees below previous records.
Fayetteville recorded a record low on Tuesday morning of minus 19 degrees, only narrowly
beating a record set in 2011 of minus 18 degrees. Similarly, Jonesboro beat its previous
low of 2 degrees, sinking to minus 1.
While records were narrowly beaten in the northern tier of Arkansas counties, central
and southern Arkansas saw even more drastic temperature drops.
North Little Rock recorded a low of minus 1 degree, down from a previous record of
16 degrees. Texarkana recorded a low of minus 1 degree, falling from its previous
low of 9 degrees. El Dorado set a record low of 6 degrees, falling 14 degrees from
its previous record low.
“For the last seven to 10 days, the northern United States has experienced significant
cold air,” Hood said. “This cold air mass was able to work its way south into the
middle part of the country, which is not unheard of, but the intensity of the cold
air and the duration the cold air has lingered, is remarkable.”
Extension agents with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative
Extension Service reported significant snowfall in counties throughout Arkansas, with
many producers concerned about impacts on poultry and cattle operations. (See our
previous story at https://bit.ly/3qD2R2Q.)
Matthew Davis, staff chair for the Jackson County extension office near Newport, said
that while he hadn’t received any notice of widespread infrastructure damage in his
county, the frozen ground would likely affect any efforts at field preparation that
would otherwise be taking place in the month before spring planting typically begins.
“The amount of snow we have gotten [and] will get will leave ground wet for a while,”
Davis said. “Unless we have a drastic change in weather patterns, it could delay some
early field work that is typically going on at the first of March for row crop farmers.
“Livestock producers are hit hardest,” Davis said. “Moving hay, providing shelter,
keeping water thawed and dealing with the birthing of livestock, etc. Conditions like
this make things very tough. They have no choice but to keep on working.”
Amanda McWhirt, extension horticulture crops specialist for the Division of Agriculture,
said that there will likely be damage to annual and perennial fruit crops in Northwest
Arkansas. A full assessment of that damage will be forthcoming, she said.
Hood said the temperatures, while dire, will likely be short-lived.
“By the end of the week, we’re going to start to see things go in the other direction,”
he said. “It won’t be overnight; it won’t be at the flip of a switch. In some locations,
we’ve got 10-20 inches of snow on the ground, so it’s not like we’re just going to
start over, and spring’s going to be right around the corner. It is going to take
Jeremy Ross, extension soybean agronomist for the Division of Agriculture, said early
soybean planting in the southernmost Arkansas counties, which typically begins in
mid-March, will likely be unaffected.
“We’re supposed to be in the mid-50s by next week,” Ross said. “Everything’s at a
standstill right now anyway. We’ve still got plenty of time.”
To learn more about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative
Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @UAEX_edu.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen
agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption
of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative
Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work
within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas
System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex,
gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital
or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and
is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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Media contact:Ryan McGeeneyCommunications ServicesUniversity of Arkansas System Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) email@example.com