Recapping Houston and Galveston’s hottest June on record, as rain chances dwindle after today

Good morning. It’s pretty evident that the heaviest rain will fall to our east today. That said, there are still storms and heavy ones at that in the area. A storm east of downtown dumped nearly 3 inches of rain in an hour as of 6:20 AM, where Brays Bayou crosses Lawndale Street on the East side. That amount of rain that fast can cause street flooding, so do keep this in mind this morning as these downpours lift north and east across the area. You may encounter street flooding, so please use caution and don’t drive through flooded roadways.

Radar as of 6:25 AM shows heavy downpours on the eastern side of the city, with the most heavy rain closer to Beaumont and Port Arthur. (RadarScope)

So with all that being said, obviously, this will probably end up a very disappointing system for our region as a whole, especially if you live on the west side. Coastal areas did well yesterday, and today’s rain will certainly be welcome. But still. While we aren’t heading back into the pattern we had in June, at least not as extreme, it will turn hotter and drier again. We’ll have some daily rain chances to cling to each day, but that’s a proverbial drop in the bucket in terms of what is needed to eradicate drought.

Speaking of, the drought monitor update from yesterday, which includes rain through Tuesday showed that drought had expanded to cover virtually the entire Houston region now, a very large increase in such a short time.

Drought coverage expanded to officially include almost the entire region, with the significant drought continuing south of I-10. Rains since this past Tuesday will help a bit but may not cut back coverage much. (US Drought Monitor)

Depending on how the next few weeks evolve, this could start to become a very bad drought for our region, or just sort of hang in place “as is” for awhile. I’m personally not particularly optimistic given both nearer-term guidance and longer-range guidance, which continues to suggest below average rainfall. With the holiday weekend celebrations ahead, please be mindful of burn bans (which cover almost the entire state), and please be extra cautious with fireworks this year. I have not heard of any local fireworks bans beyond already existing regulations, but that doesn’t mean dry ground can’t ignite in some accidental situations. So the best advice is to use more caution than usual this year.

Rest of today

This morning’s rain and localized downpours will continue off and on through the morning, likely shifting east and weakening this afternoon. Most areas east of I-45 will see some rain, but amounts will widely vary from another 1 to 3 inches in spots to just a few tenths in others. West of I-45, you will see isolated showers or storms, with many spots seeing nothing. The exception will be south of Houston. Areas across much of Brazoria and Galveston Counties will continue to see scattered storms into early afternoon.

Readers checking us out from Beaumont & Port Arthur will note some very heavy rain, especially in Port Arthur this morning. I would presume street flooding is likely to begin there soon on a wider scale basis. Use caution in that area this morning.

We only managed 82° officially yesterday at Bush Airport, about 6 degrees warmer than the record coolest high temp for the date. Clouds today should hold us back again. Look for low to perhaps mid 80s.

Weekend

With the tropical low lifting away, we’ll gradually slip back into a more normal summer pattern. Look for a chance of scattered showers or storms tomorrow, but coverage likely won’t exceed 30 or 40 percent and again focused to the east of downtown Houston. Sunday sees even lower rain chances, probably below 20 percent. Look for highs to recover into the low or middle 90s, with lows back into the upper 70s.

Next week

The weather pattern next week is likely to be dominated initially by a moderately strong ridge of high pressure over Texas. This should keep us mainly dry through Tuesday with mid to upper 90s. On Wednesday and Thursday, we’re likely to see the high pressure relocate into the Rockies. Normally, this would open up the Gulf more and allow for higher rain chances. In this case, the high also expands significantly.

A 600 decameter ridge over Colorado next weekend means we’ll likely stay hot and mostly dry after a brief uptick in rain chances mid to late week. (Weather Bell)

This will give us maybe a day or two of increased rain chances Wednesday and Thursday, but probably no better than 30 percent or so. Otherwise, look for mid to upper-90s to persist, and perhaps drier weather into the weekend. Seeing a 600 decameter ridge on the map above is really impressive for a 50 member ensemble mean. This means that the model is highly confident in a very strong heat pattern for the interior West, likely expanding to include most of Texas heading toward the week of the 11th. It won’t be as hot relative to normal as June saw, but it will still be very, very hot.

June recap

We’ll close with this: June 2022 was the hottest in Houston’s recorded history. Our average temperature in June was 86.7°, which broke 2011’s record by a half degree (86.2°).

It was also the hottest June on record in Galveston by over a full degree. June 2022 saw 87.5° for an average temperature, compared to 86.2° in June 2011. 87.5° for a month is hotter than any July on record as well. In fact, June 2022 will end up being the 4th hottest month of any month on record in Galveston. Of the 60 possible high and warm low temperature records Galveston could have set in June, they set or tied 19 of them, over 30 percent. Galveston’s records extend back to 1874.

A number of factors all play into these records: An extremely warm Gulf of Mexico, the drought, a stagnant weather pattern, urbanization, and, yes, climate change. Hopefully July is better behaved.

We’re dropping the flood alert as the heavy rain threat shifts further east

Good evening. This is just a quick post to say that we no longer anticipate the threat of widespread, heavy rainfall in the Houston metro area tonight and on Friday, including most of the coast. Therefore we are lifting the Stage 1 flood alert presently in place for coastal areas. This afternoon and evening, high-resolution forecast models have continued to trend eastward with the heaviest precipitation from a tropical system, away from the Houston region, and we can no longer justify such an alert.

Speaking of the tropical system, it has now moved inland into South Texas, and should turn more or less northward. We therefore expect that its heaviest rains will remain offshore for the most part, before impacting eastern Texas, including the Beaumont and Port Arthur areas, as well as southwestern Louisiana during the next 24 hours.

Probability of a region seeing greater than 2 inches of rain from now through Saturday. (Weather Bell)

That is not to say that Galveston and Chambers counties won’t see rainfall. But I now anticipate that 1 to 4 inches will fall along these coastal areas, with the potential for greater totals and more significant flooding off to our east. As for the city of Houston itself, Harris County, and the rest of the metro area, we’re just not seeing a strong signal for heavy rainfall. A few areas of the city may see 1 to 2 inches of rain tonight and on Friday, but for the most part we should see considerably less. Impacts likely will be minimal.

While we have tried to be careful to emphasize the uncertainty in this forecast in recent days, and the likelihood that rains would be most prevalent along the coast, I know a lot of you were hoping to get some drought-busting rains with this tropical system. In that sense, I am sorry to say, it is likely to be a bust.

Drought 1, Houston 0.

Storm update: Heavy rain likely to remain concentrated along the coast, in Galveston and to the east

Good afternoon. With this post we will provide an update on rainfall expected tonight and Friday, before our region dries out and starts to heat back up this weekend. The bottom line: We are maintaining a Stage 1 flood alert for coastal counties through Friday. The biggest change in this afternoon update is that our area of greatest concern has shifted eastward: We now expect the heaviest rainfall from now on to be focused on Galveston Bay and points eastward.

As expected, the rainfall today has been largely focused along the coast. Whereas most of the metro area north of Interstate 10 has not seen more than a few stray drops, parts of Galveston Island have received as much as 4 inches. This trend is largely expected to continue as a tropical system moves northward, continuing to push a river of atmospheric moisture on shore. Because we expect such a wide variance in outcomes, let’s break the forecast down for two different areas: the coastal counties of Galveston, Chambers, and Orange; and everyone else, including Houston.

This forecast for precipitable water, a measurement of the moisture in the atmosphere, indicates where the greatest potential for heavy rainfall will be tonight. (Weather Bell)

Galveston, Chambers, and Orange counties

Forecast modeling has zeroed in on these areas bearing the brunt of heavy rainfall, most likely from about midnight tonight and running through Friday afternoon. Locations in these counties may see between 2 and 8 inches of rainfall during that time period, and despite the dry soils the most intense rainfall rates will nonetheless quickly back up streets. (This kind of tropical moisture is capable of producing intense rainfall rates of 2 to 4 inches per hour.) If you live in these areas, you should definitely check the radar before getting on the road tonight and Friday. While things may be fine, there’s also a chance they might not be. The worst should be over some time on Friday afternoon.

Houston, Harris County, and other parts of the metro area

For everyone else the rain showers are likely to be far more spotty, and the impacts minimal. Expect a day on Friday to be pretty much business as usual. While we could see a few areas away from the coast pick up some significant rain accumulations, it would not surprise me to have much of the inland parts of our region stay below one-half inch of rain. This is especially true for locations inland of Highway 59/Interstate 69. It just looks like the moisture is going to get shunted off too far to the east to really provide meaningful rainfall to those areas. I know, our lawns and trees could certainly use a lot more.

If needed, Matt will have an updated forecast later tonight. If not, look for a post early Friday morning to catch you up on the latest.

We are issuing a Stage 1 flood alert for coastal counties, and watching the situation closely

Good morning. A tropical low pressure system is nearing the South Texas coast this morning, and should begin to move inland today. As a result, beginning tonight and on Friday, much of the Houston metro area is likely to see moderate to heavy rainfall. But the biggest threat should come in our coastal counties: Matagorda, Brazoria, Galveston, Chambers, and Orange. Therefore, for these areas we are issuing a Stage 1 flood alert on our Flood Scale.

Broadly speaking, we expect 4 to 6 inches of rain for coastal areas, which is a lot for two days, but since these areas have been so dry the totals should be manageable. However, some model data indicates the potential for coastal areas to see larger bullseyes of rain with this tropical air mass, and we are monitoring this closely. Suffice it to say that we may need to increase the flood alert later today to Stage 2, but do not feel confident in doing so now. (These bullseyes could also very well miss offshore). We plan to update you later today as we know more.

Approximate area of Stage 1 Flood Alert. (Google Maps/Space City Weather)

The remainder of the metro area should see more moderate totals of rainfall over the next two days, generally 1 to 4 inches, with amounts decreasing the further inland you go. We do not expect to need to issue any flood alerts for these areas, but again we are watching closely.

Thursday

We have seen some coastal showers develop prior to sunrise and push inland, but this activity will probably wane later this morning. Additional scattered showers and thunderstorms are possible this afternoon, but none of these are likely to be too organized. Therefore we think today should be business-as-normal for most people, and most activities. Look for highs in the upper 80s with mostly cloudy skies. The threat of heavy rain from the tropical system probably will not arrive until at least midnight along the coast, and a bit later than than that for inland areas.

Friday

Right now we think Friday will yield the most hazardous weather in terms of heavy rainfall. The key question, as we’ve been saying for a couple of days, is where the tropical low ultimately moves and brings its excessive moisture. We could find ourselves in a situation where the heaviest rain remains largely offshore, or we could find ourselves in a situation where Galveston Island receives 10 inches. What we can say for certain is that there is the potential for very heavy rainfall on Friday for coastal counties, with lesser chances as one moves into Harris County, and lesser chances still further inland. The potential for heavy rainfall should exit coastal areas on Friday afternoon or evening, and move north as the system is also moving to the north or northwest.

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

Saturday

The potential for widespread, moderate to heavy rainfall will linger on Friday night into Saturday morning as the tropical low starts to move away from the area, but we should start to see skies clearing out during the afternoon hours, allowing highs to reach about 90 degrees.

Sunday and Monday

The remainder of the weekend should see mostly sunny skies, with highs in the low- to mid-90s. There is a slight chance of rain both days, but I would only put it at 10 to 15 percent. Therefore, there should be no weather concerns for the Fourth of July holiday.

Next week

Houston’s weather will fall back into a hot and sunny pattern for most of the rest of next week, with highs probably in the mid-90s, or thereabouts. It will be a little warm for early July, but not excessively so.

We will post an update on the potential for flooding on Thursday afternoon or evening.