The weather in NWA is a bit like going on a hunting trip with Dennis Hopper. You don’t know what’s going to happen…but you know it is going to be interesting…and perhaps a bit dangerous.
Coming from Los Angeles where we had small variations on one comfortably low humidity and pleasant season, I was jolted into Arkansas’ schizophrenic and unpredictable weather when we moved here. As a result, after decades of not even thinking about the weather, I suddenly became obsessed with the weather forecast.
Not long into my obsession, I became convinced that the weather app I was using was faulty. It was more often wrong than right. So tried another app. And another. I gradually discovered that horoscopes have better predictive validity than weather forecasts here. The most accurate nightly forecast for tomorrow would be “we really have no idea…but good luck!”
Unlike the single monolithic season of SoCal, here in Arkansas we are blessed with no less than seven, with one them thrown in randomly across the other six. Let me review them for you in sequential order
Zombie Apocalypse Season
Occurring in late October through early December, plus or minus 3 months, this season is the most grim here in Arkansas.
It is also the time we moved here more than three years ago. Almost everything is dead or dormant. The grass is brown, there is nothing on the trees, and the fields look like they were watered with salt water. The only people people you see out and about are folks like Mike Rush and other skinny fit runners. However, the nuclear after glow upon this post apocalyptic landscape keeps things relative warm, which leads to the next season…
This is a mercifully short season which can last from 1 day to 45 days depending on the year. This is a very quiet time of year in NWA, but can also be very beautiful. What’s a real treat here is when we have any precipitation during this season; fun times. While I love the folks here in NWA, as I have noted previously, their driving proficiency I find to be wanting. This situation is exasperated when we have snow or freezing rain. Now to NWA drivers’ defense, the road treatment here is minimal. And when I say minimal, I mean none.
I grew up driving in rural Pennsylvania where we got plenty of the white stuff. While it paralyzed us occasionally, we usually had no problem getting around. Here it is white knuckle time in those same conditions. I remember sliding down a small hill uncontrollably, like fat guy on a water slide, on what appeared to be a clear road. My advice when it snows: stay home and mooch off your neighbors. It will melt soon.
By around March, things are consistently above freezing and if you are brave enough you can start moving your plants back outside and stare at your lawn and the random weeds that are beginning to germinate there. People are now out and about as they awake from their long winter nap. You start to see trees with buds and you will start seeing that random guy walking around on Walton holding a sign again. Spring is around the corner or as we call it…
Road Kill Season
In May and June we get our heaviest amount of rain…about 5 inches each month. That is ark consideration amounts of rain. And it comes down fast. Roads flood out regularly but the denizens of NWA pay no mind and calmly plod away with some even taking the opportunity to go kayaking due to the numerous local rivers and streams. And with the rain life blooms. And that blooming life, inexplicably wants to cross the road. I have never seen the volume or variety of dead species splattered across the road as here in NWA . Beware of the Armadillos, I have heard they can do some damage to those radials.
I have never been to Saigon in August, but I would guess it is just a smidge more humid there than NWA in the late summer months…even though we might give them a run for good Phở. Life at this time of year is absolutely exploding with hedge rows clawing out of their place on the side of road and infringing upon the edges of rural roads. It is a great time to go out and explore the beautiful local forests such as Hobbs State Park, Devil,s Den, Ozark National Forest, and 1.8 million acres of Ouachita National Forest. Even though it can get incredibly hot, you can find refuge in the woods and or go float on one of the number of amazing rivers in the area. I like Jungle Season.
The official Razorback football season starts late August or very early September. This is one of the few seasons that reliably falls on an appointed time frame. Find yourself one the many amazing brews in NWA and treat yourself to some Razorback football. At your home or at the stadium it is simply not something that can be ignored. The nightly local news treat you to a healthy dose of Razorback Nation after the regular news. I love the earthy smell of fall in NWA mixed with the cooler temps which makes me just a bit nostalgic for my hometown and the shared pervasiveness of football fever.
Tornado! (Insert Randomly)
Tornados seem to occur at any ole time here in Northwest Arkansas. Most natives here don’t seem to get overly worked up about them. I remember being in a physicians office when a Tornado touched down 3 miles away, folks continued to read their magazines and watch CNN in waiting room. Nothing to see here. As far as natural disasters occur they aren’t that bad. Earthquakes are focused and you get no notice, hurricanes you get notice but cover a large swathe of land. Tornados you get some warning and they are highly focused. If I am forced to picked natural disasters, sign me up for Tornados. While infrequent, they still can ranch it up your pulse a bit. Know where your neighbors storm cellar is just in case.
Seasons in the Sun
One benefit we have here, is we are blessed with much more sunlight than you might think; 215 days! Not too shabby! That light makes a big difference on your daily outlook and mental health. Also, after a while you look forward to the different seasons. My days in SoCal seem like one big blur as we had no falling leaves, snow, or blossoms. It is kind of nice to have some variety. Especially the amount of variability we have here in NWA. I wonder what tomorrow will be like. Everyday is an adventure.