After enduring a battering of torrential rains over the weekend, Arkansans may now have to bundle up as a cold front moves through the state bringing the likelihood of freezing weather Monday night. The state rarely feels temperatures drop below freezing in mid-April, according to National Weather Service Meteorologist Tabitha Clark, who says a cold front moving in from Canada is causing the mercury in the thermometer to drop.
“At several locations it’s likely to be the latest freeze in over 30 years....For example, if freezes do occur in Little Rock and North Little Rock it will be the latest freeze since 1983...At Jacksonville it would be tied for 2008. In places like Pine Bluff it would the latest freeze since 1928,” says Clark.
A freeze warning will go into effect at 1 a.m. Tuesday and end at 10 a.m. Clark says the weather service could possibly issue another freeze warning for Wednesday night as well.
And though temperatures should only dip below freezing for “a couple hours,” Clark says. “It’s enough for us to have to issue a freeze warning.”
On Sunday’s heavy rains, Clark says central and southwest received the most. Parts of Garland County had nearly 4 inches of rain, she says. The cities of Benton and Little Rock had about 3 inches. Flooding was also reported in Levy and on some streets in Little Rock and there were also reports of strong winds downing trees in Lonoke and Woodruff counties, Clark says.
Many growers in the state are starting to worry that harvest time yields for rice and corn may be affected by recent rainfall amounts too, as the planting season keeps getting moved back for those crops. Jason Kelley, a wheat and seed grain specialist at the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service says rice and corn are usually planted in March or April, though this year a majority of farmers in the state are still waiting for dryer conditions.
“The concern is that we got a big rain the last day or so and that’s going push planting back a bit more. If we plant late enough, that’s going to probably going to cause our yield potential to drop.”
Kelley also says the upcoming freezing weather could possibly be detrimental to the harvest of winter wheat in southern Arkansas, where the crop is closer to maturing and thus more susceptible to frost.
Winter wheat is typically planted in October, maturing in the spring and reaching what is called the “heading stage,” where the grain forms at the end of the wheat plant.
“Once we get to heading and flowering—that’s really the most sensitive time for a freeze and temperatures as low as 30 degrees could cause a lot of problems.”
Kelley says most of the wheat crop in central and northern Arkansas shouldn’t be affected, since it is at an earlier stage of growth. But if freezing weather extends to southern Arkansas, where wheat is more likely to have matured, some of the crop could be in trouble.