The temperature in Little Rock reached 73 before noon, surpassing the lowest high temperature in July record set originally in 1880 and tied earlier this month.
Forecasters initially thought a rainy system and cloud cover Thursday could keep temperatures as low as the upper 60s, breaking the longstanding record. But the heavier rain didn't develop in central Arkansas and that allowed the air to warm a few degrees, said National Weather Service meteorologist Jeff Hood.
If temperatures stay at or below 74, it would still tie or break a record for lowest high temperature on July 31, a mark that dates back to 1902.
"But that may be kind of difficult" with the thermometer reaching 73 before noon, Hood said.
Regardless of whether that record is broken, the unseasonably cool weather will still cap one of the coldest Julys in Little Rock history as well as other places around the state, Hood said.
Little Rock today will flirt with tying or breaking its longstanding record for lowest high temperature in July and the month will stand as one of the coolest Julys here ever, the National Weather Service said Thursday.
Meteorologist Jeff Hood, who works in the weather service's North Little Rock office, said temperatures aren't likely to increase significantly from where they stood at 6 a.m., an unseasonably cool 67.
The record coolest high temperature in Little Rock in July is 71, a tally tied once this month on July 18 but not recorded previously in more than a century before. A 71-degree high temperature was previously set on July 21, 1880, just a year after National Weather Service records in Little Rock began.
Hood said forecasters will be watching closely to see if Little Rock stays cool enough to break or tie the mark. If the clouds don't break and light rain continues through the day, the high could conceivably not advance out of the upper 60s.
"It's always interesting being a part of it going on while you're working," Hood said. "Something like this, if we're close enough to breaking it, [you think] let's go ahead and break the record as close as we are anyway."
And it's a welcome change from previous years, Hood said, to be contemplating a July temperature record that isn't tied to midsummer heat.
"This type of record seems to be pretty appealing to most folks out there," he said.
With a day left in the month, Little Rock had experienced its fourth-coolest July ever and could move down a notch depending on how Thursday goes, Hood said. Through 30 days, the preliminary average temperature for the month was 77.7 degrees. The average Little Rock July temperature is 82.8 degrees.
Records were falling elsewhere too.
Even with a day left, the weather service reported on Twitter that Malvern, Morrilton, Batesville, Sparkman and Searcy would record their all-time coolest Julys. Hood said several other locations across the state may see such records or at least land in the top-five coolest-ever Julys. More daily low high-temperature records may fall too.
Some records fell earlier this week. At 63 degrees Wednesday, Pine Bluff set its record low temperature for July 30. And Harrison had a high temperature Wednesday of 70, breaking the lowest high temperature mark of 73 set in 1981.