Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy Wet New Year!

By Gene Norman

Headed to one of the many New Year's Eve celebrations? Be sure to pack the rain gear and be careful on the slick roads.  The rain that began this afternoon continues as the clock strikes twelve and the New Year begins.  Wish I had better news, but sometimes "it is what it is".  Here's the forecast depiction for the wee hours of 2013:

So when does the rain stop?  Well, it may not be until late in the day Tuesday.  After that, another cool down brings a return of chilly winter weather for the balance of the week.

TONIGHT: Periods of rain, heavy at times with occasional thunderstorms.  Lows in the upper 50s.  Southerly winds 5-10 mph become northwest at 10-15 by early morning.


TUESDAY: Heavy morning rain tapers off by late afternoon.  Getting progressively cooler with temperatures falling through the 50s with steady north winds 10-15 mph.
WEDNESDAY: Cloudy and cool.  Morning lows in the low to mid 40s.  A steady raw north wind and overcast skies keep temperatures in the below 50° all day.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Cold End To 2012

Bundle up!  As the last few days of 2012 tick off; the weather remains cold.  The blue line in the picture above represents a cold front moving across Southeast Texas this evening.  Behind it, a cold dry air mass is set to settle in tonight through Sunday.  It will get close to freezing tonight, but with less wind Saturday night, a longer lasting freeze is expected. 

A new cold front approaches for New Year's Eve, which means we could see some rain to ring in 2013.  The first few days of the New Year see a return of this kind of winter's cold.  Even with the rain we'll see on the 31st, rainfall for 2012 is expected to be below normal by about seven inches.
TONIGHT: Gradually clearing skies, windy and turning much colder. Neighborhoods north of I-10 will see 3 -6 hours of freezing temperatures. Just above freezing for Houston and surrounding suburbs; low 40s along the coast.  North winds 10-15 mph.

SATURDAY: Cool and dry after a cold start, despite plenty of sunshine.  Highs barely above 50° for most locations.  North winds 10-15 mph.
SUNDAY: Freezing cold morning area wide, low 40s along the coast.  Skies quickly become overcast, keeping the balance of the day cool.  Highs in the low 50s. Northeast winds turning east 5-10 mph.

Gene Norman

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Add In Some Rain, Too

Not only has it been cold and cloudy all day, but now, we're bracing for rain overnight into Friday morning.  There have already been a few sprinkles out there this afternoon, but that's just the beginning.  A slow-moving area of low pressure will drift up the coast from South Texas and a cold front will push in from the west.  So if you're headed out tonight, be sure to take the rain gear and watch out for slick roads.  Rainfall could become steadier after midnight and into the Friday morning commute (if you still have to go work).  Then, the final few days of 2012 are looking cool leading up to another round of rain in time to ring in the New Year.

TONIGHT: Cloudy, foggy and cool with periods light to moderate rain into Friday morning.  Temperatures not changing much, mainly in the mid 50s.  East to southeast winds 5-10 mph. 

FRIDAY: Periods of moderate rain through early afternoon, then skies become partly cloudy.  Milder with temperatures sneaking above 60° briefly before cooling quickly by late afternoon.  Southwest winds early become breezy out of the northwest 10-15 mph by afternoon.
SATURDAY: Cold morning in the mid to upper 30s with mostly sunny skies.  Despite sunshine, temperatures remain cool in the upper 40s to low 50s.  North winds 10-15 mph.

Gene Norman

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

COLD enough for you?

Happy National Returns Day!  As you can see from the picture above, the Woodlands Mall parking lot is full on this day after Christmas.  The annual dash to area malls has begun; everyone who wasn't thrilled with what they received under the tree can get what they REALLY want.  This day has become popular with my children, who as they moved into their teen years loved to head out on on Dec. 26 so they could redeem their gift cards and bargain for the best deals. 

Perhaps you were looking for a warm sweater or coat.  You needed it today because it was COLD.  The wind-whipped chill that moved in Christmas night led to lows in the 30s and upper 20s for most of Southeast Texas.  Galveston recorded their lowest morning of all of 2012 when the mercury fell to 36°.  Tonight, with less wind, it could be as cold or colder, all depending on how much of the high clouds hang around. 

A sneak peak at New Year's Eve shows rain - and a lot of it so perhaps you might look for a good deal on rain gear when you're shopping the next few days.

TONIGHT: High overcast and cold with less wind.  Many locations north of I-10 will fall below freezing for anywhere from 3 to 6 hours. Close to freezing in Houston and mid 40s along the coast. Northeast winds 5-10 mph becoming east by morning.

THURSDAY: High clouds thicken through the day with a chance for light spotty rain by late afternoon continuing into the evening. Slightly warmer, but not much with highs in the mid to upper 50s.  East winds becoming breezy out of the southeast 10-15 mph.
FRIDAY: Showers and a few thunderstorms through early afternoon, then clearing skies by late afternoon.  Southerly winds early becoming northwest and gusty by afternoon 15-20 mph.

Gene Norman

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Now For Some Christmas COLD!

I hope you are enjoying a wonderful Christmas.  The day began with some fast-moving storms which produced a tornado and knocked out power for some.  The confirmed tornado occurred in Crockett, some 100 miles northeast of Houston just after 9:00 am.  This picture comes from Larry Seward, a reporter at KHOU, sent to cover the damage aftermath:

Unfortunately, in Tomball, someone lost their life when high winds toppled a tree.  Here's a complete summary of initial damage reports from the NWS:  All of this rough weather for the first half of the day came courtesy of a large storm system which emerged out of West Texas.  Warm, moist air drawn in from the Gulf collided with colder air plunging out of the Central Plains.  Combine that with a sharp narrow band of jet stream energy and you have the ingredients for severe weather. 
Now, that system is headed into Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Georgia, where it has the potential to produce more widespread, longer lasting tornadoes.  If you have relatives in those places, call them and let them know to be on alert.
Meanwhile, as cold air pours in behind the system, rain rapidly changed to snow from the Panhandle to Dallas.  If you are there or know folks who are, please share those pictures of a White Christmas.  We won't see snow anywhere near us, but the gusty northwest winds that have been blowing for most of the afternoon will be followed by a cold blast that will last for several days.  So I hope you found a warm sweater or coat under that tree today.  Here's a look at low temperatures expected tonight:
TONIGHT: Clear and breezy becoming much colder by morning.  Many locations north of I-10 will fall below freezing for anywhere from 4 to 8 hours.  Close to freezing in Houston and upper 30s along the coast.  Northwest winds 20-25 mph decreasing to 8-12 mph by morning.

WEDNESDAY: Sunny but much cooler than the past few days.  Highs may not climb above 50°, especially north of Houston.  North winds 5-10 mph.
THURSDAY: Even colder start with sunshine, bu rapidly becoming cloudier by afternoon.  Highs in the mid 50s. Winds northeast becoming east 5-10 mph.

Gene Norman

Monday, December 24, 2012

Not Quite A Silent Night

First, let me wish you all a Merry Christmas!  Thanks for supporting this blog by reading it and letting others know about it.
Today has been a much nicer day than I expected.  A cool front did slide through early today and is it stalling along the coast.  Nevertheless, skies have remained mostly sunny.  However, the front will move back inland as a warm front.  An approaching upper-level disturbance will be the trigger for strong to severe storms to develop overnight.  So while the little ones may be dreaming of sugar plums, they and everyone else may be rudely awakened by the sounds of thunder.  Be sure you and your family know what to do if the storms indeed become rough early in the morning.  Maybe the Christmas present exchange might need to be moved up to tonight.
Here's a look at where the roughest storms are likeliest from midnight until 7 am Christmas morning:
The storms will move eastward into parts of the Southeast on Christmas day.  A major severe weather outbreak with tornadoes is very likely for parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.  If you're headed that way, be aware and let relatives and friends there know the risk:
As for snow - yes, there could be rain changing to snow with light accumulations less than an inch for the Texas panhandle and the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
TONIGHT: Increasing clouds with showers developing after midnight. Strong to severe thunderstorms develop in the predawn hours lasting until sunrise.  Some storms may contain damaging wind gusts and there could be brief isolated tornadoesLows in the low to mid 60s.  Southeast winds 10-15 mph.
TUESDAY, CHRISTMAS DAY: Strong to severe storms in the morning, diminishing and moving east by early afternoon.  Skies clear by late afternoon as gusty northwest wind blow at 15-20 mph.  Temperatures in the low 70s early fall into the 50s by afternoon.
WEDNESDAY: Freezing cold morning then remaining very cool and dry despite abundant sunshine. Highs barely reach 50°. North winds 5-10 mph.

Gene Norman

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Let It Snow!...And Storm!

I hope you'll pardon me; I'm still getting over the Texans' disappointing loss to the Vikings today!  I thought the weather might cheer me up, but even that didn't do the trick.  Perusing the weather maps, I see same wet outlook for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day that I've been blogging about since last week. 

If you were out and about shopping today, you probably noticed how mild and balmy it was as temperatures climbed into the mid 70s, ten degrees higher than normal.  A weak cool front is moving in overnight, but it will stall along the coast and then move northward as a warm front Monday.  Then things get really interesting.

An upper-level disturbance coming out of west Texas will help lift the warm front across Southeast Texas.  That will lead to several periods of rain and stronger storms by Monday night going into Tuesday morning.  Cold air descending out of the Central Plains could mean snow for parts of North Texas by Tuesday.

Here's the outlook as depicted by the National Weather Service for Monday, Christmas Eve:

By Christmas Day, the snow in the Rockies envelopes more of the middle of the country:
TONIGHT: Cloudy with periods of light rain. Mild with temperatures holding in the low to mid 60s. Southwest winds becoming briefly north by morning 10-15 mph.
MONDAY, CHRISTMAS EVE: Low clouds and fog, some patchy light rain. Skies remain cloudy for the remainder of the day. Highs in the low 70s. North winds early become southeast by afternoon 5-10 mph.
TUESDAY, CHRISTMAS DAY: Strong to severe storms developing in the early morning, lasting through early afternoon. Some storms may contain damaging wind gusts and there could be brief isolated tornadoes. Skies slowly clear by late afternoon as gusty northwest winds arrive  blowing at 15-20 mph.  Temperatures in the low 70s early drop into the 50s by afternoon.

Gene Norman

Friday, December 21, 2012

First Day Of Winter

Well, we survived the Mayan Apocalypse.  I wonder what all those hoarders will do? 
Did you know that today is also the first day of Winter?  It "officially" began early this morning and it definitely felt like winter with the arrival of a very cold and dry air mass in Southeast Texas.  Even the sky looked cold:

I took this picture in Friendswood this afternoon while running some errands.  Most of these cirrus clouds were south of I-10 and if they remain through the rest of this afternoon, it could provide for a dramatic sunset.  The high pressure cell delivering the cool weather will gradually slide east during the weekend, so it will get progressively milder as southeast winds return. There is a slight chance for some rain late Sunday, but Christmas Eve and Christmas Day could be quite soggy.

TONIGHT: Mostly clear and cold. Lows north of I-10 below freezing for 2-4 hours. In town, lows fall to the mid 30s. Along the coast, lows in the low 40s. Light east winds 2-5 mph.

SATURDAY: Cold in the morning, but then becoming milder as temperatures rise to the mid to upper 60s.  Increasing afternoon cloudiness after mostly sunny skies early.  East winds becoming southeast 5-10 mph.


SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy with a chance of light rain in the morning and spotty showers by afternoon.  Warmer with highs in the mid to upper 70s with southerly winds 10-15 mph.


Gene Norman

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Cold Returns!


WOW! That was some wind that blew in today. Gusts were between 30-35 mph for a good part of the day but should die down overnight.  In the wake of the strong front that brought some rain in the wee hours of Thursday morning, it's also been colder and much, much drier. That air mass and the large area of high pressure parked over Southeast Texas will allow for several cold nights.  Tonight, we'll see the mercury plummet below freezing for many locations north of Houston for anywhere from 2-5 hours. Closer to Houston, lows could get close to freezing overnight and even as low as the upper 40s along the coast. In other parts of the state, it will be even colder:

Then, as the high drifts eastward, it will be milder over the weekend. However, it's still looking wet for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. So get a Plan B for those kids expecting a bike under the tree.

TONIGHT: Clear and cold with less wind after midnight. Lows north of I-10 below freezing for 3-5 hours. In town, lows close to freezing for 2-4 hours. Along the coast, lows in the upper 30s to low 40s. North winds diminishing to 5-10 mph.

FRIDAY: After a freezing cold start, temperatures moderate under sunny skies. Highs in the low 60s with northeast winds becoming east 5-10 mph.

SATURDAY: Cold morning, then milder by afternoon with mostly sunny skies. Highs in the mid to upper 60s with southeast winds 5-10 mph.

Gene Norman

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Stormy Tonight - Then Break Out The Jackets!

Based on this afternoon's satellite picture, a change IS coming our way:

But just step outside today and you'd be hard pressed to know it was even December!  It's been balmy and gusty and once again, temperature records were set in Southeast Texas.  This time, Bush tied the 1978 mark of 81°, but Hobby's 81° eclipsed the 2008 mark of 80°.  Also, those same gusty 25-30 mph winds also pushed some Gulf showers inland this afternoon.  But there could be more rain tonight, once a strong cold front (blue line in the picture above) currently slicing through the panhandle makes it here.  Here's a computer model depiction for 3 AM Thursday, when the majority of the rain should be heading in:

After the rain, two big changes will occur - it will be MUCH colder and whipping winds will change direction.  This time, they'll howl out of the northwest and the air will be much drier.  So much so, the National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning.  The ground is still pretty dry despite the rain from this past Sunday and what we'll get overnight.  In fact, the wind will help to quickly evaporate what we do get.  The relatively dry conditions could allow fire to spread, so please be extra careful discarding matches and around the grill or turkey fryers (you know who you are...)

TONIGHT: Mostly cloudy and very windy with occasional periods of light rain.  A steady round of showers moves through between midnight and the pre-dawn hours. Temperatures hold in the 60s until the rainfall, then quickly falls through the 50s.

THURSDAY: After morning rain exits, much windier and colder.  Skies quickly clear and the rest of the day stays cool.  Highs will barely reach 60°s.  Gusty winds out of the northwest at 25-30 mph.

FRIDAY: Freezing cold morning followed by a cool afternoon with plenty of sunshine and much less wind.  Highs in the upper 50s to low 60s. Northeast winds 5-10 mph.

Gene Norman

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

From Gorgeous To...Not So Much

I hope you had a chance to enjoy today's spectacular weather - gorgeous sunshine and a cloudless blue sky.  I took a walk this afternoon - after being cooped up in the house with a cold, it was nice to just get out!  The view above is from the University of Houston looking toward the downtown skyline of the Nation's fourth largest city.  It's hard to believe how dramatically tomorrow will be, but change is on the horizon. 

The delightful weather we had today came courtesy of high pressure parked over us since the departure of Sunday's rain.  Now that high pressure cell is moving away and very quickly, southerly winds are returning.  Today's high at Bush was 80°, 2 degrees off the record, but Hobby airport set a new record at 81°.

As you might expect, with the return southerly flow, the air will become increasingly moist overnight.  That will mean clouds by morning and areas of fog are likely to develop.  Additionally, a cold front is cutting across Texas now and will move through Houston late Wednesday into Thursday morning.  It will produce showers and thunderstorms and then it will get much colder, like it was last week for the end of this week.

Sorry, there's no change to the outlook for next week - wet for Christmas.

TONIGHT: Fair and mild early, then becoming cloudy with areas of fog by morning. Lows in the mid 60s with light southerly winds 2-5 mph.

WEDNESDAY: Cloudy and breezy with chance of showers by afternoon continuing into the evening. Highs in the mid 70s with southerly winds 10-15.

THURSDAY: Morning rain exits, followed by rapidly clearing skies, gusty winds and much cooler temperatures. Highs in the upper 50s to low 60s.  Northwest winds 20-25 mph.

Gene Norman

Monday, December 17, 2012

Cool Night Ahead

We're in for a cool, but not exceptionally cold night.  In the wake of the front that brought yesterday's rain, skies have cleared and the is noticeably drier.  That should lead to a night with lows in the mid 40s.  However, in just two days, another front is headed our way.  By late Tuesday, in fact, winds should begin to swing back to the south and depending on how quickly the cloud cover returns, Wednesday morning might not even be very cool.  The next front brings rain Wednesday into early Thursday, followed by several chilly mornings.  By the way, no White Christmas for us - right now, it just looks wet.
TONIGHT: Clear and cool with lows in the mid 40s in town, low 40s for northern 'burbs and mid to upper 50s along the coast. Light and variable winds.
TUESDAY: Sunny and warmer with southerly winds 5-10 mph and highs in the upper 70s.
WEDNESDAY: Cloudy, breezy and more humid with light showers developing by late afternoon and continuing into the evening.  Southwest winds 10-15 mph. Highs in the mid 70s.

Gene Norman

Rain... At Last!

The rumbles of thunder Sunday were quite loud and they were accompanied by copious rainfall totals.  All thanks to a slow-moving cool front that tapped into the abundant Gulf moisture which had been pooling from the day before.  Combine that with a surge of jet stream energy and it all meant rain.  The map above comes from the Harris County Homeland Security page:  This indispensable site tracks rainfall in gauges around the county giving local government and the public a way to see where there might be a flood threat.  Fortunately, there was no flooding yesterday, but some of the gauge totals west along I-10 and southeast along the Gulf freeway were in the 2"-3" range.
Officially, at Bush airport, 1.58" was recorded and Galveston picked up .86".  However, the 1.79" at Hobby and 1.24" at College Station set daily records at those two sites.  More importantly, it was the first time since Aug. 19 that more than 1" of rain fell at Bush, Houston's official recording location.
As a weak front passes Wednesday, we may see some rain and again late Sunday.  However, the long-range models more are are coming into agreement that Christmas in Southeast Texas will be quite soggy.  Stay tuned.
Gene Norman

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cloudy, Wet Weekend Ahead

Sorry for the delay, but I've been a bit "under the weather" (sorry, couldn't resist).  I thought I was immune the cold snap recently, but alas, that wasn't the case.  While the chill that arrived earlier this week made it feel more like the holidays, it won't last for weekend shopping.  Temperatures today climbed into the upper 60s as southeast winds brought back a milder feel and clouds streamed overhead.

There were a few brief passing showers, but more are expected over the weekend, especially Sunday.  In the picture above, the line of showers in western Oklahoma marks a cold front.  That front will slide across Texas Saturday and then stall.  It won't move out until late Sunday which is why we'll likely see rain this weekend.

TONIGHT: Cloudy and mild with light southeast winds. Lows in the low to mid 60s. Spotty showers by morning.

SATURDAY: Cloudy and slightly warmer with highs in the low to mid 70s. Southeast winds 10-15 mph.  Occasional periods of light rain.

SUNDAY: Overcast skies with highs in the mid to upper 70s. Scattered showers and a few thunderstorms by afternoon. Southwest winds early, becoming northwest by evening as the front moves through.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Break Out The Umbrellas!

After several cool, dry days, we're in for a change.  This depiction from a computer model shows a disturbance coming out of the Hill Country headed across the state Friday.  At the same time, the southeast winds that returned today will draw in Gulf moisture.  The combination of factors means a good chance you'll get wet, especially in the afternoon.

Simulated Radar Friday 12/14 Noon
Once that batch of rain moves out, a cool front will be dragged across Texas on Saturday.  As our winds switch to the southwest, it will get warmer and more humid.  That could lead to some spotty showers and mainly cloudy conditions:
Simulated Radar Saturday 12/15 4 PM
The front will stall and hang up along the coast.  As a series of disturbances rides along the front, passing rain showers will drift through the area.  That could lead to a soggy Sunday, especially for tailgaters and fans headed to the big Texans game vs. the Colts:
Simulated Radar Sunday 12/16/ Noon
The front will eventually move to our east but don't expect a big cool down like we've seen these past few days.
TONIGHT: Fair skies early, then increasing clouds after midnight.  Not quite as chilly as the past few evenings.  Lows in the mid 40s in Houston, upper 30s for northern 'burbs, mid to upper 50s along the coast.
FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy skies with scattered passing showers drifting from west to east by afternoon. Milder with highs in the upper 60s. Southeast winds 10-15 mph.
SATURDAY: Variably cloudy with occasional periods of light rain. Warmer and more humid with highs in the low 70s.  Southerly winds 10-15 mph.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

One More Time!

I don't know about you, but I've enjoyed the past few mornings.  Waking up to a chilly December morning just makes it feel more like the holidays.  There are signs of the season all around and the weather finally got in line.  Of course, this is Houston, so the cold won't last much longer.  In fact by the end of the week, we're in for a warmer and hopefully wetter change.  Below is the forecast low temperatures tonight.  Still chilly and northern suburbs of Houston again could see a few hours below 32°.

By Friday, however, there is less of a chill as the high pressure cell that delivered the cold blast begins to move to our east. 
With the high to our east, it'll be noticeably milder as southeast winds return by Friday afternoon.  An approaching front also introduces our first rain chance in a while.  In fact, there is now a good chance that we'll see showers part of Saturday with an even more widespread storm chance Sunday.
TONIGHT: Clear and chilly with light freeze north of Houston, mid 30s in the city. Light northeast winds 2-5 mph.
THURSDAY: Mostly sunny early with increasing cloudiness during the afternoon.  Milder with highs in the mid to upper 60s. East winds becoming southeast 5-10 mph.
FRIDAY: Partly to mostly cloudy skies with a slight chance of showers by afternoon. Highs close to 70° with breezy southeast winds 10-15 mph.
Tomorrow - a closer look at the rain chances.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Cold Continues

Well, we didn't quite have a freeze last night due in part to a batch of high clouds that drifted across Southeast Texas, but it was cold enough.  And don't forget the wind, which added a chill making it feel close to 32° this morning.  When forecasting low temperatures, I always consider several factors: how dry and cold the air is, how much wind is expected and how cold it's been recently.

In our case, our high today, like yesterday was 54°.  However, it is much drier and therefore felt a lot colder to many folks today.  The blanket of high clouds that may have slightly insulated us last night should thin out this evening, so it's very possible that it will be colder tonight than it was last night.  The process, called radiative cooling is the method whereby the earth releases stored heat.  At night, that process is accelerated when the skies are clear, the air dry and the wind light.  Heat (even the little we gained today) from the surface is released until the sun begins to rise again.  That's why the lowest temperature is recorded just at sunrise. 

Yes, you'll get good use out of your winter coat for at least two more mornings.  After that, we'll warm up slightly.  However, I am tracking another set of chilly days a week from now and possibly around Christmas.

TONIGHT: Cold with overnight lows in the low to mid 30s around Houston and surrounding suburbs.  Upper 20s for northern counties and low 40s near the coast. Clearing skies with wind diminishing from the north at 2-5 mph.

WEDNESDAY: Mostly sunny and cool with high temperatures in the upper 50s with light east winds 5-10 mph.

THURSDAY: After another chilly morning, the air becomes milder as southeast winds return 5-10 mph.  Highs in the low 60s.  Expect a few more clouds by afternoon.

Monday, December 10, 2012

COLD Blast Arrives

Bundle up! We're under a freeze warning as we'll see the first of several cold nights across Southeast Texas.  The map above shows the forecast low temperatures by Tuesday morning.  Bush should hit freezing, but many neighborhoods north of town will dip well below 32° for anywhere from 4 to 6 hours.  If we do get below 32° at the big airport, it'll be the first time since January 14 of this year. 
What should you do?  For starters, bring in the sensitive plants, which have been basking 80 degree weather the past few days.  Also this might be a night to bring in pets not used to the big drop.  Wrapping pipes?  It's probably not necessary, but I'm going to put the covers on my outdoor faucets tonight.  The air might be too dry for frost but you might want to turn off your automatic sprinklers or you could unintentionally cause ice to form on your sidewalk or street.
The cold is courtesy of an arctic blast that blew in during the pre-dawn hours today. Despite the balmy weather Sunday, there wasn't much rain here in metro Houston.  So we continue a disturbing dry trend.  The next rain chance won't be until the end of the week.  The cold, though will last for the next few nights as high pressure settles in over the region.
TONIGHT: Freeze warning. Clear skies, less wind and by morning, temperatures will fall below freezing north of I-10 for 4 to 6 hours.  Expect 1-4 hours of freezing temperatures in many Houston suburbs.  Upper 30s to low 40s along the coastal portions of Galveston and Brazoria counties.
TUESDAY: Sunny, cool and less windy. Highs in the mid 50s with light north winds 5-10 mph.
WEDNESDAY: Mostly sunny, continued cool and dry. Highs in the mid to upper 50s. Northeast winds 5-10 mph becoming easterly by late afternoon.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Record Warmth, Then Winter's COLD

Get ready for a dramatic roller-coaster ride this weekend as temperatures soar to near record levels followed by a dramatic dip to start the week.  So if you're out shopping this weekend, you might look for sweaters while you're probably wearing shorts and flip-flops.  Southerly winds returned today nudging the mercury into the upper 70s and like last weekend, we'll challenge records.  Saturday's record of 83° looks safe, but Sunday's 82° could be either tied or eclipsed.  After that, a cold front sweeps in releasing a pool of arctic air that's finally making a move after building in Western Canada all week.

As the front moves in late Sunday, showers could develop ahead of it.  I'm not expecting strong thunderstorms, but there could be some decent downpours late that evening into the pre-dawn hours Monday.  Here's a depiction from a long-range computer model.  The green represents rain moving across Southeast Texas after midnight Sunday going into early Monday morning:

The graph at the top of the blog shows the expected high temperatures the next four days, but you'll also notice how cold it will be in the morning.  We could see our first freeze Tuesday morning with several more to follow through Thursday morning.  Get ready for it!
TONIGHT: Partly cloudy skies early, then becoming mostly cloudy with areas of dense fog before sunrise. Lows in the low to mid 60s with light southeast winds 2-5 mph.
SATURDAY: Low clouds and morning fog with some light misty rain, especially east of town. Then skies become partly cloudy by afternoon with a stray spotty shower. Highs in the low 80s with breezy southeast winds 10-15 mph.
SUNDAY: Areas of dense morning fog, then partly to mostly cloudy skies with occasional showers.  Showers and thunderstorms developing late in the evening. Highs in the low to mid 80s before the rain. Southerly winds 10-15 mph.
MONDAY: Morning showers exit off the coast. Skies gradually clear out. Windy and much colder. Highs in the mid 50s, northwest winds 15-20 mph.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

That's More Like It!

It just feels nicer when the sun is out, right?  Even though temperatures are nearly the same as yesterday, seeing sunshine makes all the difference.  Also, a milder southerly wind has returned and will be with us for the next few days.  That will mean a warm-up heading into the weekend.  But don't worry cold weather fans, the arctic chill is still heading this way.  It'll arrive by Monday, so now is the time to stock up on soup and perhaps get that furnace checked.  We could see the second freeze of the fall areawide Tuesday morning.  The cold air will follow a fairly strong cold front that will bring showers and thunderstorms Sunday night as well.

TONIGHT: Partly cloudy with increasing cloudiness after midnight.  Areas of dense fog developing by morning. Lows in the mid to upper 50s with light south winds 2-5 mph.

FRIDAY: Low clouds and fog slowly lift leading to partly cloudy skies by afternoon. Milder with temperatures climbing into the mid 70s with light southerly breezes 5-10 mph.

SATURDAY: Dense morning fog leading to a partly cloudy afternoon, breezy and warmer with high temperatures near 80°. Southerly winds 10-15 mph.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Where's The Sun?

The expected clearing today never did materialize.  Foe Houston area, skies looked like this view from Katy along I-10 with downtown on the horizon.  Why didn't skies clear out?  After all, we had a cool front move through yesterday that brought rain and thunder.  The answer lies in that self-same front.  Low pressure developed along the front as it moved through Louisiana.  The air circulation is counter-clockwise around low pressure.  We are to the west of the low which drew clouds into southeast Texas.  Here's the satellite view from this afternoon:

As the low moves away, conditions should improve by tomorrow.  IBy the way, 'm still tracking a dose of arctic cold air that will move through the Rockies by late Sunday and arrive here Monday.  Here's a sneak peek at low temperatures by Tuesday morning:
There is even a slight chance of some winter weather (snow or ice) in North Texas.  We'll miss out on that, but not the winter blast, so get ready.
TONIGHT: Cloudy, cool with some fog developing overnight reducing visibilities for the morning commute. Temperatures gradually fall to the low to mid 50s with light winds.
THURSDAY: Morning fog slowly lifts by mid-morning.  Skies become partly cloudy by afternoon. Southeast winds take some of the coolness out of the air. Temperatures climb above 70°.
FRIDAY: Morning fog and clouds then partly to mostly cloudy skies in the afternoon. Southerly winds 5-10, mild with highs in the mid to upper 70s.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

After The Rain

The rain moved through today as expected and of course, its snarling traffic for the afternoon commute.  It's also meant quite a lot of rain south of I-10.  Anywhere from 1"-2" was common for a good chunk of Wharton, Fort Bend, Brazoria, Matagorda and Galveston counties.  That's a nice change from the dry spell we've had since September. 

The rain was sparked by a cool front that is bringing cooler weather to part of Texas already. 

However, it will only be a brief respite from the balmy, warm weather we've seen.  In fact, I expect near 80° weather to return by the weekend.  After that, there are signs that an arctic blast will head our way by late Monday of next week.

TONIGHT: Showers and thunderstorms tapering off before midnight. Turning cooler with temperatures by morning in the mid 50s. Winds out of the northwest at 8-15 mph.

WEDNESDAY: Early clouds give way to sunnier skies by afternoon.  Not as warm with temperatures in the low to mid 70s. North winds 5-10.

THURSDAY: After a crisp morning with temperatures in the low 50s, milder weather returns by the afternoon with highs in the mid to upper 70s under mostly sunny skies. Southeast winds 5-10 mph.

Do YOU Remember?

It's hard to think about it now with the balmy days we've seen, but just three years ago, Houston had its earliest snow on record.  A near perfect combination of factors came together to allow the flakes to fall furiously in Southeast Texas.  A low pressure system came out of the Hill Country, drawing in Gulf moisture.  At the same time, a pocket of cold air descended from the north.  The precipitation began as rain because the temperatures aloft were slightly warmer than the ground. which was close to or at freezing.  As the rain fell, it helped cool all of the atmosphere above the ground and soon, only snow was falling.  Oddly enough, the heaviest bands fell south of town.  Here are some of the accumulations from that event:

On a personal note, I was anticipating that snow, but when I saw Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel parked downtown, I knew it was going to happen.  Here's a picture of the two of us on the Sabine St. bridge:
It all melted by the next day, but it was quite a treat.  No repeat today - just some much-needed rain showers.  Do you have a remembrance or photo to share?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Cool Down Coming

Don't get too excited by the title.  Yes, we are expecting some rain followed by cooler weather as a cool front moves in Tuesday.  However, the source of this cool front is the Pacific, not the Arctic, so the cool down won't last very long; maybe just a day or two.  Even though the front is the last in a series of systems that brought significant rainfall and flooding to Oregon, Nevada and Northern California, we shouldn't see that kind of rain.  Here's a forecast map of the position of the front by Tuesday afternoon:

As I posted last week, we're in need of rain but this system is far from drought-busting.  It will bring more of what I consider "nuisance rain"; the kind that dampens the road and slows traffic.  In the front's wake - a brief respite from 80° heat, but even that won't last past Wednesday.

TONIGHT: Partly cloudy skies early with increasing clouds after midnight.  Lows in the upper 60s.  South winds 5-10 mph.

TUESDAY: Low clouds with intermittent rain early then scattered showers by afternoon. Southerly winds 5-10 becoming northwest 5-10 by early evening.  Temperatures in the mid to upper 70s.

WEDNESDAY: Clearing skies with a drier, cooler feel to start the day. Morning temperatures in the mid 50s, low 70s by afternoon.

Friday, November 30, 2012

New Month - Same Weather

This picture is from last year's Mayor's Holiday Tree Lighting celebration - Houston's official kickoff to the Holiday season will light up tonight. Indeed the calendar will say December tomorrow, but don't expect a big change in the mild weather that ended November. In fact, we won't see any change until Tuesday when a cold front moves in. But even that won't usher in a sustained cool down to make it feel more like the holidays. I don't see cooler weather until next weekend, when a stronger cold front moves in followed by a taste of arctic air. So if you like cold weather, you'll have to wait until then.

Meanwhile, this weekend is looking mild as high pressure to our east allows the southeast wind flow off the Gulf to continue. That will mean a warm and balmy weekend.

TONIGHT: Showers diminishing, but skies remain cloudy with some fog developing by early morning. Lows in the low 60s with light southeast winds 2-5 mph.

SATURDAY: Morning low clouds and fog lift by mid-morning. Partly cloudy for the remainder of the day. Warm with temperatures topping out near 80°. Breezy with southeast winds 10-15 mph.
SUNDAY: Morning low clouds and fog lift by mid-morning. Partly cloudy by afternoon. Warm and breezy with temperatures topping out again near 80°. Southeast winds 10-15 mph.

How Dry We Are

As I posted yesterday, without some significant rainfall on this last day of November, this could be the 6th driest one on record in Houston.  Only .65" has ended up in the rain bucket at Bush airport this month.  Its a story playing out all across the Lone Star.  Quite a reversal from last year, when we had nearly 5", the start of several wet months coming out of the record drought.of 2011.  Look at this comparison of the drought status over the last 30 days:

The big differences are in the panhandle and east and southeast Texas.  At the end of October only a handful of counties were classified as abnormally dry.  Now, nearly all of Southeast Texas are either in a moderate or severe drought.  The short range forecast for the next month shows little change in the rainfall patterns so this picture will likely get worse.

Beside leading to brown lawns and higher water bills, the increasing drought is also placing more and more of the state at risk for fire.  Here's the new map showing burn bans that are in effect:

Check back with me later today; I'll post the warm weekend forecast, talk about the next rain chance and the next cool down.

Hurricane Season 2012: A Three-Peat

2012: Named storms: 19, hurricanes: 10, major: 1
Watch a loop of the entire 2012 season here:
The 2012 Hurricane season comes to an end and for a record third year in a row 19 named storms formed.  A more "normal" season was expected due to El NiƱo, which never materialized.  Instead, the year will be remembered for three land falling storms.  Even though no "major" (cat 3 or higher) hurricane has hit the U.S. since Wilma in 2005, the two that did hit this year caused widespread flood and storm surge damage.  The cost from Sandy are still mounting, $100 billion and counting.  It may finally be time to reconsider "how" storm threats are communicated.

The season got off to a fast start with a record four storms developing during the first month.  I must admit, I doubted whether or not two of those first four were valid.  Tropical Storm Alberto didn't seem very organized and Hurricane Chris looked more like an extra-tropical storm in the North Atlantic.  Then, along came Tropical Storm Debby at the end of June giving forecasters fits.  The first projection positioned the storm toward Texas.  It eventually drenched most of the Florida panhandle over the course of nearly a week.

Then things got very quiet in July as no storms developed.  August did a 180°, and it seemed a new blossomed every few days with a total of eight for the month.  Few were a real threat until Isaac, which drew comparisons with another "I" storm - Ike.  That was mainly due to its size:

However, no two storms are ever alike and each poses unique threats.  Isaac while large was slow-moving once it entered the Gulf.  Also slow was the declaration of Isaac to hurricane status, which may have delayed the action of some in the storm's path.  Eventually Isaac dumped nearly two feet of rain in the Mississippi delta, leaving behind scenes like this from New Orleans:

After Isaac, it looked like the season might be over.  Only two storms formed in the usually busy month of September.  Among them was the strongest of the season; but Cat. 3 Michael meandered harmlessly in the central Atlantic.  Then things got active again in October, capped off by the SuperStorm - Sandy.

I recall watching the long-range computer models about ten days out hinting at something developing in the Caribbean.  I thought the model was over-doing it until it persistently continued with that forecast.  Eventually, of course a storm did form, roaring to Cat 2 status wreaking havoc first in Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.  Then for the second time in as many years, the East Coast of the U.S. braced for a possible hurricane strike.  But unlike last year's Irene, Sandy would strengthen before slamming into the coast.

People from the Carolinas to New England suffered some kind of damage.  The highest impact came to Coastal New York and New Jersey with a deadly combination of torrential rain and storm surge flooding accompanied by winds that knocked out power to millions. 
The land falling storm collided with cold air bringing early record snowfall to West Virginia.  Even as people struggle to recover in the hardest hit areas, the economic impacts of Sandy continue to mount:
On this last day of the season, the hurricane center is watching a swirl in the southern Atlantic with only a slight chance of developing.  It's doubtful that the season will extend into December, though.  The last time that happened was 2007, when Olga formed in the Caribbean in December of that year.
It's a long way to June 2013, and hopefully, that year's tally won't reach as high as the last three.