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(Hill 'n Holler staff photo)

(Hill ‘n Holler staff photo)

By Professor Guy Q Publix
Reliable weather data have existed by cooperative weather observers in Northern Arkansas since the late 1800’s. Mammoth Spring has reasonably complete records for the periods the professor is going to discuss.
The following analysis of prior cold weather events in our part of the country seems to boggle the mind since most winters produce only moderately cold temperatures and wintry precipitation. This has particularly been true, with a few exceptions, for the past three decades. So if you think last winter and this one were cold, cogitate on these figures for a balanced perspective.
February 1899, February 1905, December and January 1917-18, February 1951 and the winter of 1976-77 will be discussed by the cool professor. Material for this story was provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA Climatic Data Center) and the Little Rock National Weather Service. Some enlightening links to official source material will be provided.
The extreme cold centering on February 1899 was probably the coldest period to engulf the Midwestern U.S. in at least 250 years — producing many temperatures records still standing. Harrison reached a minimum of -24 degrees F. during this outbreak of frigid weather. But February 1905 ran a close second, with the all-time cold state record of -29 degrees F. being set at Gravette.
Then comes the extended cold of December 1917 and January 1918. A minimum temperature of -21 degrees F. was reached in Mammoth Spring on Dec. 9, 1917. Snowfalls came at regular intervals for several weeks culminating with up to two feet of snow lying on the ground through late January 1918. Mammoth Spring experienced -23 degree F. on both the 12th and 13th. That will frost anybody’s fern — and one can only speculate this was responsible for the extinction of brass monkeys in Arkansas!
Early February 1951 was another instance of North Arkansas cold. Mammoth Spring’s minimum temperature was -24 degrees F. on Feb. 2, 1951. January 1977 saw more than a foot of snow in many areas of North Arkansas, with Yellville falling to -20 degrees F.
Because Professor Guy believes brevity is the soul of wit, some other cold hits have been omitted. If you wish to visit a link outlining these and other statewide wintry events visit www.srh.noaa.gov/lzk/?n=pns010914txt.htm – or another interesting link provided by the Little Rock National Weather Service giving statewide highlights of significant weather events for every day of the year go to www.srh.noaa.gov/lzk/?n=onthisday.htm.

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