A Look Back: Tropical Cyclones Near Arkansas

While Arkansas and Oklahoma are located far from the coastline, it’s possible for tropical cyclones to follow a path towards us, but it’s not common. For the Atlantic Basin, the peak of hurricane season is on September 10th. Most of the tropical activity actually occurs in September and October.

Back at home, we’ve had our share of tropical storms and tropical depressions that have impacted Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley.

Do you remember these hurricanes and tropical storms?

Since 1961, there have been nine named hurricanes and tropical storms that eventually crossed into eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas. These weakened after making landfall near Texas and Louisiana, and they each followed a similar path inland. There have been a total of 21 tropical cyclones since 1871 that have reached our area.

The following animation depicts the nine different tropical cyclone paths within a 75 mile radius of Fort Smith from 1961 to the present.

Before reaching Arkansas and Oklahoma, some of the nearby tropical cyclones were hurricanes that caused damage and flooding along the coasts. The interaction between the tropical cyclones and land caused them to weaken once they approached us. The local threats were weak winds and moderate rainfall, depending on the exact track.

Most of the activity in the tropics stays well away from us. Current tropical cyclones in the Atlantic, such as Hurricane Florence, will not move in our direction.

A recent example in Arkansas of tropical storm remnants was Gordon, which followed a path near Little Rock last week.

 

-Sabrina