Arkansas climate is mainly humid subtropical (Köppen climate classification Cfa) with hot and humid summers and mild to cool winters. Arkansas lies in the southeastern corner of the United States. Tennessee and Mississippi to the east, Louisiana to the south, Texas to the southwest, Oklahoma to the west, and Missouri to the north share borders with the state. The warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the southern latitudes, and the Ozark Mountains chiefly influence the climate of Arkansas.
Arkansas, the Natural State, has an average elevation of 200 meters above sea level. Mount Magazine is the highest peak at 839 meters, while the lowest elevation in the state is 17 meters at the Ouachita River on the Louisiana border. A dividing line that runs from the northeast to the southwest cuts the state into two geographical regions. The region to the north and west of the line is mainly hilly or mountainous with relatively colder but greater temperature extremes. The Ozarks and the Ouachita Mountains are part of the Southern Interior Highlands in the northwest. The region to the south and east of the line consists of lowlands, including the Arkansas Delta and the Gulf Coastal Plain. The Arkansas River is the chief river in the state.
Summers are warm and humid in Arkansas, with average high temperatures 93°F (33.9°C) at the peak of July. Temperatures often exceed 100°F (37.8°C) during the summer and occasionally reach 110°F (43.3°C) in the south. Winters are mild but occasionally register temperatures below freezing. The average high temperatures in January are 51°F (10.6°C) and lows drop up to 32°F (0°C) in many places. Spring has comfortable temperatures, but frost and freezes are not ruled out till the latter part of the season. Autumn has mild and sunny weather in the east and southern parts, which is ideal for the harvest of rice and cotton. Autumn is generally the driest part of the year.
The average annual rainfall in Arkansas ranges from 40" (1016mm) to 60" (1524mm), with the southeast portion and the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains wetter than the rest. Winter is the wettest period of the year in the south, while spring brings the most rainfall in the north. Snowfall infrequently occurs in the northern half of the state, while occasional ice storms occur in the south. The average relative humidity is high and ranges from 85% in the morning to 55% during summer afternoons. The average annual sunshine lasts for 2800 hours in Arkansas. The growing season lasts from 180 days in the northwest to 230 days in the southeast.
Ozark recorded the highest temperature in Arkansas of 120°F (48.9°C) on August 10, 1936, while the coldest temperature on record is -29°F (-33.9°C) in Gravette on February 13, 1905.
The best time to visit Arkansas
The best time to visit Arkansas is during the fall season when the weather is mild and the days are sunny. Autumn is the driest season of the year, with beautiful outdoor conditions. The land is colorful, and it is one of the best times of the year to hike the mountain trails. The storm season is on the wane, the atmosphere is refreshing and, and the evenings tend to be breezy. The northern hilly regions tend to be colder than the southern portions of the state. Fishing and hunting attract considerable interest, and the harvest season is the time of food festivals.
The worst time to visit Arkansas
The worst time to visit Arkansas is during the peak of summer when the heat is oppressive. July and August also bring heavy rainfall and frequent thunderstorms. The monsoon sees a rise in humidity that makes the conditions uncomfortable. Temperatures often reach north of 100°F (37.8°C), and afternoons are worst for outdoor movement. The remnants of tropical storms from the Gulf of Mexico frequently reach the interior of the state even though the results are not devastating. It is a good idea to wait out the hot summer in Arkansas for the pleasant conditions of the autumn.
Arkansas is prone to thunderstorms, floods, droughts, and tornadoes. June and July report the highest frequency of thunderstorms, which average 60 in a year. Arkansas has a history of a few of the most destructive storms in the United States due to its location in the Tornado Alley. Hail, snow, and ice storms occur in a typical year, while the melting of snow and abundant rainfall results in floods. Floods frequently occur along the White, Black, and Ouachita rivers during spring but are rarely disastrous. Severe droughts of long duration occasionally occur in the drier portions of the state. Winter storms rarely occur, but dump several " of snow and make the roads icy.
Weather in January
January is usually the coldest month of the year in Arkansas, with the average low temperatures between 24°F (-4.4°C) to 34°F (1.1°C). The days are mild, with little difference in the different regions of the state, while the nights regularly drop below freezing. Little Rock, the capital in central Arkansas, registers cold to mild temperatures between the 31°F (-0.6°C) to 51°F (10.6°C) range. Snowfall is light between 2" (50.8mm) to 4" (101.6mm) and mostly occurs in the northern parts such as Eureka Springs, Fayetteville, Bentonville, and Mountain Home. The southern region records the highest precipitation of the year of 4" (101.6mm) to 6" (152.4mm), while the rest of the state registers between 3" (76.2mm) to 4" (101.6mm). The sunlight lasts for 6 hours, even at the peak of the winter. Mountains always evince tourist interest in Arkansas, and the cold season offers romantic getaways with warm cabins for lodging. Winter coats are mandatory in hilly areas. Tourists from the American north find January weather delightful in Arkansas.
Weather in February
February is wet and mildly cold in Arkansas, with partly cloudy skies that fetch 4" (101.6mm) to 5" (127mm) of rainfall. The average low temperatures are between 29°F (-1.7°C) to 38°F (3.3°C), while the average low temperatures are in the comfortable 51°F (10.6°C) to 60°F (15.6°C) range. El Dorado in the south is mild between 37°F (2.8°C) to 59°F (15°C) compared to Harrison in the north between 30°F (-1.1°C) to 51°F (10.6°C). The Ozark and Ouachita Mountains are the green lungs of Arkansas and find many visitors even in the winter. Cold fronts from the north rarely penetrate deep in the south. The temperatures rise steadily by the fourth week of February, and the snowfall remains light in the majority of the state. A warm jacket provides comfort from the strong gusts of wind and is useful to counter the rain. The state and national parks remain open in the winter, with plenty of tourist footfall and generally comfortable conditions. February occasionally experiences a winter storm in northern Arkansas.
Weather in March
March is warm at the beginning of the spring season in Arkansas that also brings 4" (101.6mm) to 5" (127mm) of precipitation statewide. Snowfall is rare except for the northern mountains where it lasts till mid-spring. Northern Arkansas experiences freezing nights occasionally, but the rest of the state rarely sees them. The average high temperatures are in the lovely range of 59°F (15°C) to 68°F (20°C), with refreshing mornings and mild evenings. Much of the state welcomes the growing season with the last of the freezes ending in spring. Eudora in the eastern region registers mild temperatures in the 45°F (7.2°C) to 69°F (20.6°C) zone, while Hot Springs in the central region is slightly milder between 43°F (6.1°C) to 66°F (18.9°C). Early spring melts the snow in the bright 7 hours of daily sunshine to bring fresh water to the rivers and streams. The sweet smell of soil and blooming flowers over the landscape bring an atmosphere of happiness. Fishing and boating activities gather momentum with the end of the cold season. A rain jacket is always useful in Arkansas, including in the wet month of March.
Weather in April
April sees the advance of the beautiful spring season in Arkansas, with plenty of sunshine and long daylight hours. Day temperatures are in the warm 71°F (21.7°C) to 79°F (26.1°C) zone, while nights are mild between 44°F (6.7°C) to 51°F (10.6°C). Benton in the central region registers mild temperatures between 50°F (10°C) to 74°F (23.3°C). April sees significant precipitation to the tune of 4" (101.6mm) to 5" (127mm) across the state. Spring is a bit rainy, but the land bursts to life with apple blossoms and wildflowers and the singing of mockingbirds. The humidity is at comfortable levels, and so is the heat. Rivers carry freshwater from the melting of snow, and roaring waterfalls are the highlights of hiking the mountains in the spring season. Fishing and boating gather plenty of interest, as visitors enjoy the hospitality of Mother Nature. Carry a jacket to protect from sudden showers. April is an ideal time for budget travelers to visit Arkansas with the low cost of accommodations and comfortable weather.
Weather in May
May is sunny at the end of the spring season in Arkansas but also brings heavy rainfall in the northern hilly regions. The temperatures and humidity see a significant increase in late spring, and nights are mild. The average high temperatures are in the warm zone of 76°F (24.4°C) to 82°F (27.8°C), with the end of the snow season in the mountains. Much of the state sees the growing season, with the land free of sleet and ice. Fort Smith in central Arkansas registers comfortable temperatures between 59°F (15°C) to 81°F (27.2°C), while Eureka Springs in the north is between 56°F (13.3°C) to 77°F (25°C). The wilderness is captivating as the spring season covers the landscape with lush greenery. Beware of afternoon storms, especially in the hilly regions. A light sweater or preferably, a jacket, will keep out moisture and cold past sunset. Heavy rainfall and snowmelt are likely to cause local floods, so keep an eye on the weather in May in Arkansas.
Weather in June
June is the start of the hot and humid summer season in Arkansas, with long days amid soaring heat. Day temperatures are in the hot zone of 83°F (28.3°C) to 92°F (33.3°C), while nights are mild between 62°F (16.7°C) to 70°F (21.1°C). Mountain View in the north is between 64°F (17.8°C) to 87°F (30.6°C), while Pine Bluff in the south registers in the range of 69°F (20.6°C) to 88°F (31.1°C). June brings 4" (101.6mm) to 5" (127mm) of precipitation even though the daily sunshine lasts for 8 to 9 hours. Summer is hot, but there are plenty of ways to stay cool, including competing for prime spots at swimming holes and tasting the delicious local wines. Museums are the ideal places for visitors who wish to stay indoors in the scorching midday heat and acquaint with the history of Arkansas. Mountain trails and serene lakes are attractive for adventure lovers, as are camping grounds and backcountry trips. June in Arkansas is vulnerable to thunderstorms and tornadoes, so watch out for storm alerts.
Weather in July
July is peak summer in Arkansas, with average temperatures soaring to a high of 92°F (33.3°C) amid high humidity levels. The northern regions are slightly colder than the rest of the state, which regularly sees temperatures above the 100°F (37.8°C) mark at the height of summer. The growing season is long, and the shower type of rain in the summer renders useful aid to the growth of crops. A trip to one of the state parks is due in the summer vacation period for many. The Ozark and Ouachita Mountains provide much-needed coolness during the hot days of summer when mountain cabins and lodges remain busy. The humidity is high in the morning, but at the same time, the sunshine is at its mildest to avail of outdoor trips. Arkansas is prone to tornado activity during peak summer in July. Severe thunderstorms frequently occur in the afternoons, especially in the southern region. Avoid a visit to Arkansas in July, if possible.
Weather in August
August is hot and humid in Arkansas, with ample sunshine and mostly clear skies. The average high temperatures are in the hot zone of 89°F (31.7°C) to 95°F (35°C) range, while the average low temperatures are in the warm 65°F (18.3°C) to 72°F (22.2°C) range. August receives 3" (76.2mm) to 4" (101.6mm) of moderate but lies in the tornado season. Harrison in northern Arkansas averages between 66°F (18.9°C) to 89°F (31.7°C), Little Rock in the central region is between 72°F (22.2°C) to 93°F (33.9°C), while Monticello in the south registers in the 71°F (21.7°C) to 92°F (33.3°C) range. Lakes, streams, and creeks see plenty of footfalls with the high heat and humidity. Fishing and hunting are popular with the availability of a large number of wild animals and fishes. The extended daylight hours offer bright evenings with a significant decrease in the heat. Light sweatshirts or t-shirts are usually sufficient during the day but do not forget to take sunglasses and hats on outdoor trips. Expect the temperatures to decline gradually by the end of summer in August in Arkansas.
Weather in September
September is the beginning of the beautiful autumn season of Arkansas, which brings color to the landscape. The average high temperatures are in the warm range of 80°F (26.7°C) to 89°F (31.7°C), while the average low temperatures are in the comfortable range of 57°F (13.9°C) to 64°F (17.8°C). Fayetteville in the north registers between 59°F (15°C) to 81°F (27.2°C), while Texarkana in the south is slightly warmer in the zone of 63°F (17.2°C) to 86°F (30°C). The bright daily sunshine lasts for at least 8 hours in the majority of the state, of which the mornings and evenings are the best. The apple picking season sees heightened activity along with pumpkin patches and corn mazes. Precipitation is moderate statewide, and autumn is the driest season of the year. The harvest season brings plenty of fresh produce that keeps the farmers' markets abuzz with visitors. The decline in storms brings the best conditions for kite lovers with moderate wind speeds. The majestic September skies are fantastic for stargazing in Arkansas.
Weather in October
October is slam-bang in the middle of the autumn season in Arkansas when the fall foliage is at its peak. The average temperatures are in the pleasant 51°F (10.6°C) to 80°F (26.7°C) range, with breezy evenings. The valleys and mountains show hues of gold, crimson, and orange. Fall vacations are popular in Arkansas as visitors compete to capture nature in its colorful glory. Mountain trails, rural roads, scenic parkways, and lakesides offer the best ways to explore the beauty of the fall season. The Ozarks and the northern region are the first to change colors by the second week of October, followed gradually towards the south. The foliage is at its peak by the fourth week of October in the northern ranges. The conditions are comfortable with moderate but bright sunshine and the driest period of the year. The mild weather is a perfect getaway for people who seek mild weather during the cold months. October is a great time to visit Arkansas.
Weather in November
November is mild in Arkansas, with the fall season on the verge of retreat. The daylight lasts for 11 hours, and the daily sunshine is a reasonable 6 to 7 hours. Jonesboro in eastern Arkansas registers cold to mild temperatures between 38°F (3.3°C) to 60°F (15.6°C), while Little Rock in the central region is between 42°F (5.6°C) to 63°F (17.2°C). The morning air is crisp, and the evenings are pleasant. November registers moderate rainfall to the tune of 3" (76.2mm) to 4" (101.6mm), but the skies remain mostly clear. Fall sunrise and sunset are spectacular in the natural habitat of rivers and mountains. Wrap up in a jacket after sunset as nights can quickly become cold. Bonfires and gatherings add spice to the cold evenings along with marshmallows and treats. Hunters are keen to take advantage of the abundant number of wild turkey, deer, and fox. Hiking, biking, camping, and rock climbing are some of the popular activities during the fall season. November draws considerable interest in Arkansas from the snowbirds in the northern part of the United States.
Weather in December
December is the start of the mild to the cold winter season in Arkansas, with daily sunshine of 6 hours. The precipitation is in the range of 4" (101.6mm) to 5" (127mm), and it is prudent to carry a rain jacket when outdoors. Snowfall is usually light in the northern region and rare in the rest of the state. The average high temperatures are in the mild 47°F (8.3°C) to 58°F (14.4°C) range, while the average low temperatures are in the cold 26°F (-3.3°C) to 36°F (2.2°C) zone. Fayetteville in the north registers temperatures in the zone of 29°F (-1.7°C) to 48°F (8.9°C). The southern portion of the state is warmer than the rest and has night temperatures regularly above freezing in the winter. The proximity to the Gulf of Mexico mellows the cold season, yet cold air masses reach the interior from the north. The tourist numbers are satisfactory in December in Arkansas when the northern part of the United States faces extreme cold. [Resources]
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