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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.

  High Low 24-hour
City 11/11 11/12 Temperature Change

Fayetteville 81 9 -72 degrees
Rogers 81 9 -72 degrees
Harrison 76 5 -71 degrees
Dutton 78 8 -70 degrees
Subiaco 86 16 -70 degrees
Eureka Springs 80 11 -69 degrees
Fort Smith 85 16 -69 degrees
Amity 86 20 -66 degrees
Dodd City 78 12 -66 degrees
Swain 73 7 -66 degrees
Jonesboro 80 15 -65 degrees
Lutherville 81 16 -65 degrees
Mena 80 15 -65 degrees
Center Point 86 22 -64 degrees
Hardy 78 14 -64 degrees
Bee Branch 79 17 -62 degrees
Mammonth Spring 77 15 -62 degrees
Prescott 85 23 -62 degrees
Hot Springs 82 21 -61 degrees
Pocahontas 78 17 -61 degrees
Conway 81 21 -60 degrees
England 80 20 -60 degrees
Benton 80 21 -59 degrees
Huttig 81 22 -59 degrees
Little Rock 81 22 -59 degrees
Camden 83 25 -58 degrees
El Dorado 82 24 -58 degrees
Fordyce 82 25 -57 degrees
Texarkana 81 24 -57 degrees
Arkadelphia 78 22 -56 degrees
Malvern 81 26 -55 degrees
Warren 82 27 -55 degrees
Pine Bluff 78 24 -54 degrees
Helena 79 26 -53 degrees
Newport 73 20 -53 degrees
Portland 83 30 -53 degrees
Brinkley 74 22 -52 degrees
Wynne 72 22 -51 degrees
Lewisville 78 29 -49 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 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 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 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.