Warmer weather returning, but the odds of Houston’s first true fall front increase for next week

We continue to enjoy fairly quiet weather across the region in the wake of Hurricane Nicholas. Today will be no exception, though things get a bit more unsettled this weekend. But the drumbeat regarding our first legitimate autumn cold front is growing louder today. For now at least, it would seem that some very nice weather is on the horizon for the back half of next week. More on that below.

Today

Friday will probably be similar to Thursday in a lot of ways with clouds and sunshine sharing the sky. Yesterday saw upper-70s at Bush Airport compared to mid-80s at Hobby. Today should probably see 90 or better in a lot of locations, provided the sun is out a good bit. Otherwise, look for mid to upper-80s, still warmer than Thursday.

A warm but fairly pleasant Friday should be in store for most of the area, with little rain chance. (NOAA)

Rain chances are quite slim to none today.

Saturday & Sunday

We sort of settle back into more of a typical late summer pattern this weekend, as Eric’s been noting the last couple days. The coverage of showers and storms expected has wobbled a bit lately, but it looks like we’ll have decent coverage of showers tomorrow and maybe a bit less coverage on Sunday. We’ll have a good bit of humidity and highs in the upper-80s to low-90s depending on cloud cover. Morning lows should be in the 70s.

Early next week

Monday looks pretty good right now with just a chance of a shower or storm but otherwise partly to mostly sunny. Look for morning 70s and afternoon 90s. Tuesday looks similar, though with perhaps a slight nudge up in rain chances.

Cold front update!

On to what should be the good news. Both the GFS & European models are in agreement on a cold front coming into the area on Wednesday. They differ on exact timing and how strong it will be, but they both show it distinctly in their forecasts and ensembles for the most part. Here are the low temperature charts from the 51 Euro ensemble members and the 31 GFS ensemble members. I’ve boxed in the period for next week.

Both the Euro (left) and GFS (right) have good agreement among the majority of their ensemble members for a cold front through Houston next week, though they differ on exact timing and amplitude. Click to enlarge. (Weather Bell)

The Euro is at nearly 100 percent agreement on a pretty potent cold front reaching the area, closer to Wednesday morning. The GFS, however looks to be at more like 50 to 55 percent agreement, with most ensemble members not quite as cool as the Euro. But, when you look closer at the GFS, it does bring a strong front south; it just manages to whiff to our east, bringing most cool air into Louisiana, rather than Texas. That same chart above and to the right shows more like 90 percent agreement in a front when you look at it for Lake Charles, which seems a bit odd to me.

I would say there’s a bit of uncertainty right now on the finer details, like whether it’s 60 to 65 or 65 to 70 in the mornings late next week (though I will say that it’s quite tantalizing to see several European ensemble members in the 50s). In terms of getting the front through Houston, that’s looking like an increasingly likely proposition. Assuming that’s the case, expect a period of showers or thunderstorms Tuesday night or Wednesday, followed by mostly sunny conditions for the end of the week. Highs would be in the 80s with low humidity. And again, we’ll see about how cool morning lows go.

Tropics

The Atlantic remains active with two areas still holding at a 70 percent chance of development over the next 5 days. Both are expected to head out to sea.

While the tropics remain busy, as is typical for September, none is a realistic threat to the Gulf. (NOAA)

Some folks will continue to point to Invest 95L (the red area in the central Atlantic) as being concerning, but in order for it to come more west, it would have to remain a disheveled mess and would likely get ripped apart before it got far enough west to be concerning. Oh, and with a cold front likely to get well offshore next week, the western Gulf is protected through at least next weekend. In other words, you can rest easy. No concerns for us.

Have a great weekend!

One of the year’s last summer-like weekends lies ahead

Good morning. Houston will see one more partly to mostly cloudy day before a string of mostly sunny days. Temperatures will likely reach the low 90s during the coming period, but we’re increasingly confident that some sort of front will make it through our area during the middle of next week. How strong? We’ll have to wait and see.

Thursday

Although Nicholas has dropped below tropical depression strength in Louisiana, we’re continuing to see wrap-around clouds and light northerly winds from the system. This will contribute to another mostly cloudy day, and should help to keep highs in the mid- to upper-80s for most of the area. A little bit of misty rain is possible, but most of us should remain dry. Lows tonight will drop into the mid-70s.

Friday

We’ll see a mix of sunshine and clouds on Friday, and the return of light southerly winds temperatures will probably nudge up to around 90 degrees. We can’t rule out a passing shower, but any rain should be fairly isolated and fleeting.

NOAA rain accumulation forecast for now through Sunday. (Weather Bell)

Saturday and Sunday

The weekend should see mostly sunny skies with highs in the neighborhood of 90 degrees. Some showers will be possible as moisture from the Gulf of Mexico increases, but rain chances on both days are probably only about 30 percent now. This should be one of the last truly summer-like weekends of 2021, so if the beach is your thing, do your thing.

Next week

We’ll remain in a summer-like pattern through about Wednesday of next week. After that time it does look like some sort of front will push through, although whether its the “upper 60s and some drier air” kind of front or something more like “60 and unbelievable” is yet to be determined.

Tropics outlook for Thursday morning. (National Hurricane Center)

Tropics

There’s nothing for the Gulf of Mexico to be concerned about now, or likely for at least the next several days. The end of the tropics season for Texas is near, but we’re not ready to make that call yet.

Houston’s weather to return to a more typical late-summertime pattern

Good morning. After a week of all-Nicholas, all-the time, we’re returning to a period of more normal late-summertime weather in the Houston region. As for the hurricane, it’s now a tropical depression nearing southwestern Louisiana, and should soon dissipate. After more clouds today our weather will turn more sunny, and highs around 90 degrees likely return for the weekend.

Wednesday

Some very light rain has fallen across parts of the area overnight, and additional spotty showers will be possible later today. But for the most part, this should simply be a cloudy day with moderate high temperatures of about 80 degrees. As we’re on the backside of Nicholas, winds will be out of the north or northwest for much of the day at 10 to 15 mph. Tonight should be mostly cloudy and pleasant, with lows dropping to around 70 degrees in the city.

High temperatures today will be near 80 degrees for most of Houston. (Weather Bell)

Thursday and Friday

Skies should start to become at least partly sunny on Thursday, and this will help to push highs into the mid- to upper 80s tomorrow, and possibly as high as 90 degrees on Friday. Rain chances for both days are low, perhaps 20 percent, but not non-existent.

Saturday and Sunday

After a few days of a drier overall flow, we’ll start to a see a more pronounced return of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico this weekend. This will result in rising rain chances, but I think there’s still a shot for mostly sunny skies on Saturday. Highs are likely in the low 90s. Even if most of us get through Saturday without too much rain, showers probably become more widespread on Sunday, with perhaps two-thirds of the area seeing some rain. Accumulations shouldn’t be huge, perhaps one-quarter to one-half inch for most.

Next week

Daily shower chances remain in the forecast through the middle of next week, with highs likely settling out in the upper 80s to low 90s. At that point we’re going to be looking for our first “fall” front of the season, which knocks temperatures below 65 degrees in Houston. It’s possible that is coming around next Thursday or so, but at this point we have no guarantees. But I’m ready. I suspect you’re ready as well.

Tropical outlook for Wednesday morning. (National Hurricane Center)

Tropics

The tropics remain very active, which is usual for this time of year. But we’re getting closer to the end game for the Texas coast, in terms of hurricanes. And while there is the potential for a few tropical systems to develop this week, none appear likely to trouble the Gulf of Mexico (even that ominous looking red blob in the eastern Atlantic). I suspect you’re OK with that as well.

Nicholas exiting the Houston area, and we now get a few days of calm

Good evening, and we hope folks are doing well and are safe after the passage of Nicholas. After nearly half a million customers lost power in the Houston area this morning, Centerpoint has restored all but about 150,000 as of 4:45 PM. Meanwhile, Nicholas is just barely a tropical storm, centered in far eastern Chambers County.

Radar shows the center of Tropical Storm Nicholas in eastern Chambers County, drifting east toward Louisiana. (RadarScope)

Maximum sustained winds are 40 mph, but in the Houston area, most sites are no longer reporting wind gusts, and those that are report fairly benign gusts. Nicholas is done with us, and it’s a reminder that wind and surge are issues here too. The next act will be rainfall and flooding along the central Gulf Coast. About 6 to 10 more inches of rain is possible in eastern Louisiana, southern Mississippi, southern Alabama, and parts of the Florida Panhandle from Nicholas as it very, very slowly creeps east across Louisiana tomorrow and Thursday before dissipating.

Flooding concerns will stay well to our east, with an additional 6 to 10 inches of rain possible between New Orleans and Destin, FL. (NOAA)

Hopefully the flooding will not be too serious in those areas, particularly those still very much recovering from Ida.

Back here in Houston, we get to look forward to 2 or 3 days in a row of calmer weather.

Wednesday through Friday

Look for a mix of clouds and sun all three days, with perhaps more sun than clouds on Thursday and/or Friday. Highs will be in the mid-80s tomorrow, upper-80s on Thursday and 90 or so on Friday. Morning lows will be tolerably in the low-70s tomorrow to perhaps mid-70s by Friday in spots. Rain chances are not zero, and it’s possible we could get a few showers or storms here or there, but those should be fleeting and isolated.

Rest of the tropics

A lot of folks are beginning to ask questions about Invest 95L, a tropical disturbance wayyyyy out in the Atlantic. The National Hurricane Center gives it a 90 percent chance of developing by the weekend.

A tropical wave (Invest 95L) in the far eastern Atlantic has a 90 percent chance of developing over the next 5 days as it moves west across the Atlantic Ocean. We will watch this, but no reliable guidance currently brings 95L into the Gulf. (NOAA)

First, let’s just breathe after Nicholas for a moment.

Second, it appears that the models are split into two camps with respect to 95L. Those that strengthen it quickly over the next few days turn it north into the open Atlantic quickly. Those that don’t, keep it coming west or west-northwest into the islands or just north of there by the weekend. So far as I can tell, there is not one single ensemble member of 85 on either the GFS or Euro that delivers 95L into the Gulf of Mexico. Most turn it out to sea before getting to the islands. Still, it’s probably something to check in on again in a few days. But at this point, we don’t view this as a serious concern for the Houston area. Rest easy tonight if you’re able.

A final word

Thanks to all of you for your kind words of support and encouragement through yet another storm. We are grateful to those of you that choose us and share us with your friends and family. This certainly was not an easy forecast, but we tried our best to manage expectations throughout. We always put a lot of thought into our word choices and the messages we want to send, and it’s a responsibility we don’t take lightly. Certainly a few lessons learned from the ramp up in intensity last night that we’ll carry forward with us for the future too. But, whether you’re a new reader or a longtime reader, thanks for sticking with us, and we hope to be your choice during the next storm, whenever it may occur.

Eric will have our usual daily update in the morning.