No matter where you may travel, the locals will marvel at the rapid changes in weather by saying, “That’s *Arkansas* Weather for ya!” Fill in the ** for your current location and you will hear that statement often. A year in weather changes it certainly has been here in the South. Comparing the 2009 and 2010 weather summaries from the National Weather Service, one can easily see the changes.

So far in 2010, the weather headlines in Arkansas has been rainfall, or lack thereof. The change from some locations in Arkansas in 2009 receiving over 100″ of rain to locations in 2010 receiving less than 50% of annual rainfall has farmers and ranchers in a head-spin. To give you a visual on the difference, the map below depicts inches of rainfall above normal in 2009. Some locations receiving 20+ inches above normal amounts.

This map depicts % of normal annual rainfall locations in Arkansas received in 2010 (only up to December 15). Some locations receiving less than 50% annual rainfall compared to average.

Images from the National Weather Service

These changes are easy to see from the ground. Last year on Christmas Eve, my family was watching 10 inches of rain fall from the sky, this year we are look at ponds we are able to wade across. This drought is not only happening in Arkansas, but all across the South-Central U.S.

Soil Moisture Levels in the South-Central States

What does this dry weather mean for farmers and ranchers? Many farmers have experienced higher costs of irrigation or severely decreased yields. Many ranchers have found themselves with much higher feed costs or facing the reality of herd liquidation; not good news when our national cow herd is decreasing annually. Those that do chose to retain their herds face mounting winter feed bills for quality harvested forage.

Good news is the Farmers’ Almanac calls for a cold, snowy winter for parts of this region, although continued drought to the south and west. Only time will tell…

Just remember there is always a way to be thankful for the glass…We have a 1/2 inch of fresh snow in the forecast for Christmas morning! About the only White Christmas we receive in Arkansas is frost on the ground.

Merry Christmas to you and yours. Stay safe, warm, and remember to Thank a Farmer and Rancher for their work in producing the food on your tables this season.