Month: April 2016

It looks like it’s going to be another one of “those” weekends here in Southeast Texas. We’ll have rain, storms, and potentially flooding to contend with, and all the while, we have a good deal of uncertainty still in the forecast. Here’s a short breakdown. I’ll follow it with an FAQ type section at bottom.

First, just a reminder: A Flash Flood Watch is posted for Houston and primarily the counties north and west of the city starting later today and going into Sunday morning.

TODAY

I don’t foresee a lot of issues this morning…if any at all. By mid-afternoon, storms should have started in Central Texas, along I-35 and points east. These will organize and spread east toward our area by late afternoon or evening. Storms this afternoon and evening will have the potential to be strong to severe. The main threats will be hail and damaging wind, and given how saturated the ground is, any sort of strong winds can be more problematic than usual. The tornado threat is low, though it isn’t zero (and as we sadly saw in Tomball the other morning, it doesn’t need to be a high risk or a strong tornado to be tragic, so please heed any warnings if issued). Obviously, our main focus will be flooding.

Simulated forecast radar for today. Storms fire along I-35 this afternoon & move toward Houston this evening. (Weather Bell)

Simulated forecast radar for today. Storms fire along I-35 this afternoon & move toward Houston this evening. (Weather Bell)

TONIGHT

This is where confidence drops and our risks for flooding begin to go up. I expect we will see repeated rounds of showers and thunderstorms around the region. It’s still a bit difficult to say exactly who will see the most persistent storms, but anywhere in the area around Houston (north, west, or even south of the city) stands the potential to see this happen. It’s simply too tough to say where with any specificity. We will update you on this again later today. But the Friday night timeframe is the one we’re most concerned with, namely because we’ll have a substantial amount of atmospheric moisture to work with.

GFS Precipitable Water (PWAT) forecast this evening shows summer-like levels of available moisture. (Weather Bell)

GFS Precipitable Water (PWAT) forecast this evening shows summer-like levels of available moisture. (Weather Bell)

Usually once you get over 2″, you’re talking considerable moisture, which means that any thunderstorms can produce torrential rain. The concern is that a boundary of storms could sit over one area and tap into this moisture. Hopefully this isn’t what occurs, but it’s something we have to watch.

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The National Weather Service said this afternoon that a Flash Flood Watch will go into effect for much of Metro Houston (basically along and north/west of US-59/I-69) beginning Friday afternoon and continuing through Sunday morning. This includes the areas hardest hit by last week’s flooding.

Counties under the Flash Flood Watch Friday-Sunday (Iowa State/NWS)

Counties under the Flash Flood Watch Friday-Sunday (Iowa State/NWS)

 

As Eric pointed out this morning, there’s good reason for this. Most bayous in the city (Buffalo Bayou an exception) are back at their baseline levels. But, outside the city, streams, creeks, and bayous are running a few feet higher than normal still. And with a soggy ground any additional rain is unwelcome and can cause flooding concerns depending on how quickly it falls.

Basically, at this point all you need to do is continue to watch the forecast. There’s a bit less certainty with this event than there was last week. Also, it can’t be underscored enough that the rain totals implied by all models with this event aren’t anything like the last one. We want you to be prepared but not to panic here. We still don’t know exactly where the heaviest rain will fall, but we know there will be a few spots that see a pretty substantial amount of rain (not 15-20″ like last week, but 4-8″ in a few spots isn’t impossible).

So just stay tuned in through the weekend, especially if you have to travel around the area or live in an especially flood prone spot. We will have you covered. Read More…

Good morning. After another day or so of quiet weather we’re going to have to face another period of potentially heavy rain on Friday night and Saturday.

TODAY

Houston will see warm temperatures on Thursday, but how warm depends up the extent of cloud cover. If we’re mostly sunny temperatures could rise into the upper 80s, to near 90 degrees. If there are some clouds, or a scattered shower near where you live, temperatures will probably remain in the mid-80s. In either case, it will be a warm, almost-summer-like day.

FRIDAY

After a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms developing to the north of Houston on Thursday night and Friday morning, we’ll see better rain chances later in the day. It is possible we’ll see some thunderstorms move in from the west later on Friday, during the evening hours. For now the west-northwest part of the metro area lies under a “slight” chance of severe weather (damaging winds, hail and possibly a tornado) on Friday and Friday night.

Severe weather outlook for Friday. (NOAA)

Severe weather outlook for Friday. (NOAA)

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As noted earlier, a nasty line of severe thunderstorms moved through Houston this morning, bringing especially unpleasant conditions north of Interstate 10, with downed trees and power lines (causing one death). Winds gusted up to about 60 mph across much of the region. At least two tornado warnings were issued although neither has been confirmed as of yet. By 6:20am CT about 125,000 CenterPoint customers were without power, mainly in northern Harris and southern Montgomery counties. The only comfort is that because the storms moved quickly, they only had time to drop 0.5 to 1 inch of rain across the region.

TODAY

With the main line of storms moving into the Gulf of Mexico and east of the Houston metro area by about 7am, for today the main event has ended. Some scattered shower and thunderstorm activity will be possible in the wake of this system later this morning and afternoon, but it will not be nearly so organized or severe. In short, despite the inclement weather earlier, it should be safe to resume normal activities this morning across the Houston metro area. Highs today will be in the mid-80s.

THURSDAY

We should see a bit of a break from storms, but not from heat. Look for highs in the upper 80s. With enough Sun we might come close to hitting 90 degrees for the first time in 2016, although I hope (and don’t think) that will happen. Hello, summer?

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As the southern edge of a major storm system moves approaches Houston the western half of the metro area is under severe thunderstorm warning this morning until 5:30am CT.

Area of severe thunderstorm warning in effect through 5:30am CT. (National Weather Service)

Area of severe thunderstorm warning in effect through 5:30am CT. (National Weather Service)

 

In addition to heavy rain (about 0.5 to 1 inch with this line of storms) this means there may be strong winds, hail and possibly even a tornado over a northern part of the city near Spring. I expect the thunderstorm warning area to expand eastward as we get closer to sunrise.

One saving grace from this system is that it continues to steadily move eastward and should move out of the eastern half of the Houston region by 7 or 8 am CT. After the main line of storms moves through we could see some additional scattered showers and thunderstorms later this morning and afternoon. But as for the potential for very heavy rain and severe weather, this is the main event.

Posted at 4:45am CT Wednesday