Fort Smith Climate & Monthly Temperature Overview – United States

Climate Overview

Fort Smith, Arkansas, experiences a humid subtropical climate with distinct seasons. Summers are hot and humid, with average high temperatures in the low 90s Fahrenheit (mid-30s Celsius) from June through September. Winters are mild, with average high temperatures in the mid-50s Fahrenheit (low teens Celsius) from December through February. Precipitation is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, averaging around 45 inches annually.

Weather by Season

Summer (June-September): Summers in Fort Smith are characterized by hot and humid conditions, with average daily temperatures reaching into the low 90s Fahrenheit (mid-30s Celsius). The humidity often makes it feel even hotter, and thunderstorms are common during the summer months.

Winter (December-February): Winters are mild in Fort Smith, with average high temperatures in the mid-50s Fahrenheit (low teens Celsius). However, it can occasionally get cold, with temperatures dipping below freezing at night. Precipitation is common during the winter, but it is mostly in the form of rain or drizzle.

Spring (March-May): Spring in Fort Smith is a pleasant time of year, with temperatures gradually warming and precipitation decreasing. The average high temperature in April is in the mid-70s Fahrenheit (mid-20s Celsius), and the humidity is generally lower than in the summer months.

Fall (October-November): Fall in Fort Smith is a beautiful time of year, with temperatures cooling and the leaves changing color. The average high temperature in October is in the low 70s Fahrenheit (low 20s Celsius), and the humidity is relatively low.

Monthly Average Temperatures

Fort Smith, Arkansas, experiences distinct seasonal variations in temperature throughout the year. During the summer months, from June to August, the average high temperatures hover around 90°F (32°C), with average lows in the mid-70s °F (24°C). The humidity levels are typically high during this time, making the heat feel even more oppressive.

Seasonal Temperature Variations

In contrast to the hot summers, winters in Fort Smith are relatively mild. From December to February, the average high temperatures range from the mid-40s to low 50s °F (7-11°C), while the average lows dip into the 20s °F (-6°C). The city experiences occasional snowfall during these months, but it rarely accumulates significantly. Spring and fall in Fort Smith offer pleasant weather, with average temperatures ranging from the mid-50s to mid-70s °F (13-24°C).

Cloud Cover in Fort Smith

Fort Smith, located in the Midwestern region of the United States, experiences a variety of cloud cover patterns throughout the year. During the spring and summer months, clouds are typically more prevalent, with an average of 50-60% cloud cover. This is primarily due to the region’s humid subtropical climate, which leads to frequent precipitation and cloud formation. During these months, cumulus and stratus clouds are common, bringing occasional rain or thunderstorms.

Seasonal Variations in Cloud Cover

In contrast, during the fall and winter months, cloud cover in Fort Smith tends to be lower, with an average of 30-40%. The region’s cooler and drier climate during this time results in fewer clouds and more sunshine. High-altitude clouds, such as cirrus and altocumulus, are more prevalent during these months, contributing to the clear and crisp skies that are characteristic of the season. However, during winter storms, cloud cover can increase significantly, bringing snow and other forms of precipitation. Overall, Fort Smith experiences a varied pattern of cloud cover, influenced by its geographic location and seasonal climate changes.

Seasonal Precipitation Trends
Fort Smith, located in Arkansas, experiences a humid subtropical climate characterized by distinct seasonal precipitation patterns. Spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November) typically bring moderate rainfall, averaging around 4-5 inches per month. Summer (June-August) is the wettest season, receiving about 6-7 inches of precipitation monthly due to frequent thunderstorms and occasional tropical cyclones. In contrast, winter (December-February) is the driest season, with an average monthly precipitation of only 2-3 inches.

Precipitation Variability
Annual precipitation in Fort Smith exhibits significant variability from year to year, influenced by prevailing weather patterns and large-scale climate phenomena. The average annual precipitation is approximately 45 inches, but fluctuations can occur due to droughts, floods, and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). For instance, during extreme drought conditions, annual precipitation can drop below 30 inches, while during wet periods, it can exceed 60 inches. These variations can have a substantial impact on water resources, agriculture, and ecosystems in the region.

Rainfall Patterns in Fort Smith

Fort Smith, located in Arkansas, USA, experiences a humid subtropical climate with distinct rainfall patterns throughout the year. During the spring and early summer (March-June), rainfall is generally abundant due to frequent thunderstorms and occasional frontal activity. May and June typically receive the highest rainfall, averaging around 4.5 inches (114 mm) and 4.1 inches (104 mm), respectively.

Seasonal Variability and Extremes

In contrast, rainfall is relatively sparse during the late summer and early fall (July-October). August is the driest month, receiving an average of only 2.7 inches (69 mm) of rainfall. However, heavy rainfall events can still occur during this period, particularly in the form of hurricanes or tropical storms that occasionally impact the region. In the winter months (November-February), rainfall becomes more intermittent, averaging around 3-4 inches (76-102 mm) per month. Nevertheless, occasional winter storms can bring significant snowfall or icy conditions.

Historical Average Snowfall

Fort Smith, Arkansas experiences moderate snowfall compared to other regions in the United States. On average, the city receives approximately 5.3 inches of snow annually. The majority of snowfall occurs during the winter months, particularly in January and February. The period from December to March is typically characterized by the highest snowfall totals, although occasional snowfall can occur outside this period.

Snowstorms and Exceptions

Fort Smith has experienced significant snowfall events in the past, with the heaviest snowstorms occurring in 1942 and 1994. In 1942, a massive snowstorm dumped 14 inches of snow on the city, paralyzing travel and disrupting everyday activities. Similarly, the 1994 storm brought more than 12 inches of snow to Fort Smith, resulting in widespread power outages and road closures. It is important to note that while these extreme snowfall events are relatively rare, they are a reminder of the potential for severe weather in the region.

Summer Sunshine

Fort Smith, Arkansas, experiences ample sunshine during the summer months. Temperatures climb to the mid-80s, with humidity levels ranging from moderate to high. From June to August, residents and visitors can expect an average of 9-10 hours of sunshine per day. The clear skies and warm temperatures make it an ideal time for outdoor activities such as swimming, hiking, and biking. Festivals and events also abound during this season, as the city comes alive with the sounds of music and laughter.

Winter Sunshine

In contrast to the summer months, Fort Smith experiences fewer hours of sunshine during the winter. From December to February, the average daily sunshine duration drops to around 5-6 hours. Temperatures typically hover around the mid-40s, although freezing nights are not uncommon. The shorter days and cooler temperatures often result in a layer of snow cover, adding a picturesque touch to the city’s landscape. Despite the reduced sunshine, Fort Smith offers plenty of indoor attractions during the winter, such as museums, theaters, and shopping malls, providing ample opportunities for entertainment and leisure activities.

Moonrise and Moonset:

The moon rises and sets at different times each day in Fort Smith, United States, due to Earth’s rotation and the moon’s orbit around Earth. The exact times vary throughout the year as the moon’s orbit changes. Generally, the moon rises in the east and sets in the west, following a predictable pattern.

Moon Phases:

The moon goes through various phases during its orbit around Earth. These phases are visible from Fort Smith, providing a captivating spectacle in the night sky. The moon’s phases include the new moon, when it is not visible in the sky, to the full moon, when it is fully illuminated by the sun. As the moon orbits Earth, it progresses through its phases, creating distinct appearances in the night sky.

Humidity Trend in Fort Smith

Fort Smith, located in western Arkansas, experiences significant humidity fluctuations throughout the year. The city’s humidity levels are generally high, especially during the warmer months. From May to September, the average relative humidity exceeds 70%, with peaks above 90% during July and August. These high humidity levels can make it uncomfortable outdoors, leading to excessive sweating and heat-related illnesses.

During the winter months, from December to February, humidity levels drop to their lowest point, averaging around 55%. The lower humidity during this time makes for more pleasant outdoor conditions, although cold temperatures may still impact comfort levels. However, the humidity can rise abruptly during periods of rainfall, contributing to a muggy and uncomfortable atmosphere.

Wind Patterns

Fort Smith, Arkansas lies in the south-central United States, which is characterized by a humid subtropical climate. The city experiences a variety of wind patterns throughout the year, influenced by the prevailing westerlies and the interaction between different air masses. During the winter months, cold fronts from the north frequently bring strong northwest winds, often accompanied by precipitation. In the spring and fall, the prevailing winds are more variable, with southwesterly and southeasterly winds bringing in warm and humid air from the Gulf of Mexico. During the summer, Fort Smith is subject to occasional southerly winds, which can contribute to the formation of thunderstorms and heavy rainfall.

Wind Speeds

Wind speeds in Fort Smith are generally moderate, with an average annual wind speed of approximately 5 miles per hour. However, the city can experience occasional periods of high winds, particularly during the winter and spring months. Strongest winds are typically associated with the passage of cold fronts and thunderstorms. In recent years, Fort Smith has seen several significant windstorms, including an EF2 tornado in 2020 that caused widespread damage. The city is located in an area that is vulnerable to tornadoes, and residents should be prepared for the possibility of severe weather events.

Spring (March-May)

Spring in Fort Smith is a delightful season marked by blooming flowers, vibrant greenery, and pleasant temperatures ranging from 40s to 60s Fahrenheit. The landscape comes alive with colors as tulips, daffodils, and cherry blossoms announce the arrival of warmer days. Visitors can explore the city’s numerous parks, including Parrot Island Park and Fort Smith National Historic Site, where they can witness the breathtaking beauty of nature. The less crowded conditions make this an ideal time for leisurely walks or bike rides along the Arkansas River Trail.

Fall (September-November)

As summer transitions into fall, Fort Smith experiences a cooling climate and captivating foliage displays. The leaves of oak, maple, and elm trees transform into a vibrant tapestry of reds, oranges, and yellows, creating a picturesque backdrop for outdoor exploration. The milder temperatures, typically ranging from 50s to 70s Fahrenheit, make it perfect for visiting historical landmarks, such as the Fort Smith Museum of History, or attending one of the city’s many fall festivals. The absence of summer crowds allows for a more intimate and enjoyable experience.

Potential and Benefits of Solar Energy

Fort Smith possesses considerable solar energy potential due to its ample sunshine throughout the year. The city’s average annual solar insolation is approximately 4.5 kilowatt-hours per square meter per day, offering significant opportunities for solar power generation. Utilizing solar energy can result in numerous benefits for Fort Smith, including reduced reliance on fossil fuels, lower energy costs for residents and businesses, and improved environmental sustainability.

Challenges and Opportunities

One of the primary challenges in harnessing solar energy in Fort Smith arises from the city’s relatively high humidity levels, which can impact solar panel efficiency. However, advancements in solar technology, such as bifacial panels, are mitigating this issue. Additionally, Fort Smith has limited rooftop space suitable for solar installations, making land-based solar projects more feasible. The city is actively exploring solar farm development to overcome these challenges and unlock the full potential of its solar resources.

Terrain and Elevation

Fort Smith is situated in the Arkansas Valley, characterized by rolling hills and a network of streams that converge to form the Poteau and Arkansas Rivers. The city’s elevation gradually slopes upward from around 400 feet along the Arkansas River to over 600 feet at its highest point, providing a varied topography. The gently undulating landscape includes terraces, ravines, and floodplains, offering scenic vistas and diverse habitats for wildlife.

Geological Formation

Fort Smith’s topography has been shaped over millions of years by geological processes. The region is primarily composed of sedimentary rocks, including sandstone, shale, and limestone, deposited by ancient rivers and oceans. During the Carboniferous period, the area was covered by a vast swamp, leading to the formation of coal seams that were later mined extensively. Over time, the land underwent uplift and erosion, exposing the underlying rock formations and creating the present-day topography. The Poteau and Arkansas Rivers have further carved into the landscape, forming valleys and shaping the riverine environments.

Fort Smith Regional Airport (FSM)

Fort Smith Regional Airport (FSM) is the nearest airport serving Fort Smith, Arkansas, United States. It is located just 6 miles (9.7 kilometers) northeast of the city center and offers a variety of commercial flights to major hubs such as Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), Memphis (MEM), and Atlanta (ATL). These flights are operated by regional air carriers like American Eagle and Delta Connection, providing convenient and affordable transportation options for travelers. FSM also serves as a base for private and corporate aircraft, with a fixed-base operator (FBO) on-site.

Other nearby airports

While FSM is the closest airport to Fort Smith, there are several other airports within a reasonable driving distance. Tulsa International Airport (TUL) in Oklahoma is approximately 60 miles (97 kilometers) northwest of Fort Smith and offers a wider selection of destinations, including international flights. Northwest Arkansas National Airport (XNA) in Bentonville, Arkansas, is situated about 80 miles (129 kilometers) northeast of Fort Smith and provides non-stop service to several major cities. Additionally, Little Rock National Airport (LIT) in Little Rock, Arkansas, is around 130 miles (209 kilometers) southeast of Fort Smith and serves as a regional hub with connections to cities across the United States.

History of Fort Smith

Fort Smith was established in 1817 on the Arkansas River, near the present-day border of Oklahoma. It served as a major military outpost during the American expansion westward and played a pivotal role in securing the frontier. The fort became a hub for the fur trade, a stopping point for the westward expansion, and a base of operations for campaigns against Native American tribes. Over the years, Fort Smith grew into a thriving community and was renamed the city of Fort Smith in 1886.

Modern-Day Fort Smith

Today, Fort Smith is a modern city with a population of over 85,000. It is the second-largest city in Arkansas and serves as a regional economic and cultural center. Fort Smith boasts a rich history and is home to several historical landmarks, including the Fort Smith National Historic Site, the Belle Grove Historic District, and the Fort Smith Museum of History. The city offers a thriving arts and culture scene, with numerous museums, theaters, and art galleries. Fort Smith is also a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with its proximity to the Arkansas River and the Ozark Mountains providing ample opportunities for hiking, fishing, and kayaking.