2023 was a year many of us would like to forget. We must remember, it's Arkansas! We have everything from tornadoes to winter/ice storms every year. Video below takes you through events number 4,3, and 2.
#4 - January 24th, winter storm warnings were in effect from eastern New Mexico all the way into Ohio. This included much of western and northern Arkansas. By the 26th, up to 14'' of snow fell in the higher elevations of northern Arkansas. Elsewhere, it was too warm for snow.
#3 - It started on January 30th and did not end until February 2nd. An ice storm hit much southern and eastern Arkansas with heavy amounts of sleet north. The weight of the ice brought down many trees and power lines. At one time, almost 80 thousand were without electricity.
#2 - We get hail in Arkansas and sometimes, BIG hail. The most likely month for that is in April, however, we had 2 massive hail storms in June. That's rare! The amount of damage was in the tens of millions and maybe more than that. Areas like Vilonia, Hot Springs, Malvern, and Sheridan were hit hardest.
You probably already know the number 1 weather story of the year in Arkansas, the March 31st EF3 tornadoes. It still amazes me to this day that we did not have a death in central Arkansas as a direct result of the tornado. I think there are 2 reasons that happened. First, the warning processed worked! The communication started days in advance and the warnings were issued well in advance of the storm. Second, the tornado came in during the daylight hours. If this happened at night, I'm afraid we would have different results. It's another reminder to have a way to receive warnings when you are asleep. There was 1 fatality indirectly associated with the EF3 tornado. More than 50 were injured.
I remember texting storm chaser, Brett Adair, when the storm was moving over Hot Springs taking aim on Little Rock. He was getting into position to intercept the storm and we both thought Little Rock would be affected. I remember seeing that tornado in west Little Rock behind 10 Fitness. It was one of those moments when the gravity of the situation hit hard. I knew lives would be forever changed and that included my family. Moments after the tornado hit west Little Rock, I received a text from my sister and all it said was, "mom's house destroyed". This was almost a month after her passing.
Another tornado devastated Wynne in eastern Arkansas. That EF3 tornado killed 4 Arkansans.
Notable other events of 2023
The west Little Rock microburst in September of 2023 hit some of the same areas affected by the March 31st tornado. These damaging winds were estimated up to 80 mph.
In early January 2023, an EF1 tornado hit Jessieville in northern Garland county. The tornado was captured on a security camera as it crossed the Jessieville High School football field.
Personally, it has been a year of change. Some of it positive and some of it tragic. The loss of my best friend, mom, still weighs heavily on me everyday. A world without parents is a reality for me now. Within 1 month, she was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer and then passed away. It can change that quickly. That's something we must keep in mind. Our loved ones can be here today and gone tomorrow. Embrace them and love them knowing our time is limited.
There has also been very positive change and that will carry over into 2024 and beyond. I truly appreciate ALL of you and will always be thankful for your trust. Your outpouring of support has been AND still is overwhelming. There are a lot of great things happening and I can't wait to serve you once again very soon. Arkansas is my home and will always be my home. I have surrounded myself with people who share and understand my passion for covering the weather and love this state as much as I do. Hope you come along for the ride, you will not be disappointed!