The Super Front of Nov. 11, 1911
November 11th marks the anniversary of the cold wave of November 11th, 1911. A strong arctic cold front swept through the continental United States on the 11th and 12th. The air mass ahead of the front was unseasonably warm...and many record high temperatures were set on the 11th. Frigid air swept in behind the front...and dropped temperatures significantly within a 24-hour period.
The front produced severe thunderstorms and tornadoes across the upper Mississippi Valley...a blizzard in the Ohio Valley and the upper Midwest...and a dust storm in Oklahoma. At many locations in Arkansas...not only were record highs set on the 11th...many record lows were set on the 12th.
Temperatures dropped as much as 70 degrees in 24 hours in parts of northern and western Arkansas. The mercury fell to single digits in the higher elevations of the Ozarks. The low temperature of 5 degrees at Harrison on the 12th remains the coldest ever recorded in the month of November in the city.
The 24-hour temperature changes experienced during this cold wave remain among the greatest on record in northern Arkansas. At Harrison...the temperature change of 71 degrees from the 11th to the 12th is the greatest 24-hour temperature change on record.
|Eureka Springs||80||11||-69 degrees|
|Fort Smith||85||16||-69 degrees|
|Dodd City||78||12||-66 degrees|
|Center Point||86||22||-64 degrees|
|Bee Branch||79||17||-62 degrees|
|Mammonth Spring||77||15||-62 degrees|
|Hot Springs||82||21||-61 degrees|
|Little Rock||81||22||-59 degrees|
|El Dorado||82||24||-58 degrees|
|Pine Bluff||78||24||-54 degrees|
Rapid temperature changes of this magnitude have occurred several times since reliable weather records began in the late 19th century. The clash between warm air coming up from the Gulf of Mexico and the frigid air behind these approaching arctic fronts often produce strong to severe thunderstorms and gusty winds. Behind the boundaries...temperatures often drop on the order of 40-60 degrees within 24 hours or less...and wintry precipitation has occurred frequently.
Some other notable rapid temperature drops in Arkansas weather history include:
In November 1891...A strong cold front moved through the state on the 16th and 17th...with a rapid temperature drop behind it. The front produced severe thunderstorms and heavy rainfall. A severe hail storm occurred at Madding in Jefferson County at around 4:30 p.m. on the 16th. The temperature at 4 p.m. just before the storm was 78 degrees. By 9 a.m. on the 17th...the temperature had fallen to 26 degrees. Most locations experienced a 40 to 50 degree drop behind the front.
In November 1898...A strong cold front passed through Arkansas on the 21st. Severe thunderstorms associated with the front produced reports of wind damage throughout the state...along with one to two inches of rain. Behind the front...temperatures plummeted on the order of 40 to 50 degrees in less than 20 hours. At Harrison...the temperature fell 48 degrees in 14 hours...from 60 degrees at 7 a.m. to 12 degrees at 9 p.m.
In January 1916...another strong cold wave moved through the state on the 12th and 13th. At Little Rock...the temperature at 4 a.m. on the morning of the 12th was 72 degrees. 24 hours later...it had fallen to 12 degrees. This remained the greatest 24-hour temperature change on record at Little Rock for seven decades. At Hardy...the temperature fell 41 degrees in eight hours...from 56 degrees to 15 degrees.
Other notable rapid temperature drops occurred in March 1904...January 31st-February 1st 1917...in January 1943...January 1950...and January 1996.
January 1985 saw what is likely...for much of central and southern Arkansas at least...the most rapid temperature drop on record. On the 19th...most locations reported high temperatures in the 50's and 60's. That evening...a strong arctic front passed through the state...ushering in blowing snow and very cold temperatures. By the morning of the 20th...most locations in northern and central Arkansas had seen a 24-hour temperature difference of 50-60 degrees or more...with temperatures at or below zero at many locations. Due to strong winds associated with the front...wind chills as cold as -25 degrees were reported in parts of the state.
At Cabot...the temperature dropped 65 degrees in less than 24 hours...from a high of 60 degrees on the afternoon of the 19th...to a low of -5 on the morning of the 20th. At Little Rock...the temperature a little before 3 p.m. reached 60 degrees. The front passed the city by 4 p.m. with a temperature at 51 degrees. An hour later the temperature had fallen to 33 degrees with northeast winds of 17 mph. with gusts to 28 mph. By 8 p.m., the temperature had fallen to 26 degrees...with winds gusting to 23 mph...and blowing snow. By 9 a.m. the next morning...the temperature had fallen to -2...and with winds gusting to 31 mph...the wind chill had fallen to -22 degrees.