Good morning. In today’s post we’ll talk about the weather for the week of Thanksgiving—which should be fairly pleasant for the holiday itself, if warmer than normal—the likelihood of a stronger cold front during the coming weekend, and discuss what our warmish fall may mean for our upcoming winter. Also, I’d like to remind you that we are entering the final week of our annual fundraiser, during which you can support the site through buying merchandise or simply donating. We appreciate the tremendous response so far this year.

Winter is (not) coming?

The Houston region has twice gotten as cold as 42 degrees this fall at Bush Intercontinental Airport, but we have yet to dip into the 30s in the metro area—what I would generally define as “cold” or “winter-like” weather. On the flip side, a lot of nights this month have been quite warm for November, with more than one-third of lows not reaching 60 degrees or below. This rather warm end of fall may make you wonder whether we’re going to see sustained, winter-like weather this season.

I think the answer is yes. This week is, indeed, going to be fairly warm, with highs in the 70s (and possibly 80 for a few locations), and nights will not be cold. But the extended models suggest we’ll enter a much colder pattern by Sunday, and that it’s going to stick around for awhile in December. It is true that we are in a La Niña, a fairly strong one, and this typically means we see somewhat warmer than normal conditions during December, January, and February. However, that does not mean the region will not see nights in the 30s and at least a handful of freezes. So hang on—Houston should start to experience more winter-like weather soon. For some winter energy saving tips please check the message from Reliant at the end of this post.

Yes, Houston is going to see a winter this year. (Weather Bell)

Monday

A weak front has moved into the Houston region during the overnight hours, and it will lead to a pleasant, fall-like day for the region. As drier air filters into the area, we should see partly to mostly sunny skies by this afternoon, and high temperatures will climb into the low 70s for most areas. Winds will be light out of the north, shifting to the east. Lows tonight should drop to around 60 degrees in Houston, with warmer conditions along the coast, and 50s further inland.

Tuesday

Winds will shift to come from onshore by Monday night, and this will set up a warmer, more humid day on Tuesday, with highs of around 80 degrees and partly to mostly cloudy skies. Low temperatures on Tuesday night will be 5 to 10 degrees warmer.

Wednesday

The second front of the week should push into Houston on Wednesday, perhaps reaching western parts of the region during the morning hours, and moving to the coast by noon, or during the afternoon hours. There will be perhaps a 30 percent chance of rain with the front—showers would be brief, and not particularly heavy—before skies clear out in the wake of the front. Highs will likely be in the 70s before overnight temperatures drop into the 50s for everyone in the region except for the immediate coast.

Current forecast for high temperatures on Thursday. (Pivotal Weather)

Thanksgiving

Most of the holiday should see fair weather in the wake of the front, with highs in the upper 70s and partly sunny skies. However, this front will be another short-lived affair, so the onshore flow should resume later on Thanksgiving and lead to a fairly warm and muggy night with lows struggling to fall below 70 degrees for many locations in the metro area.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

At this point the big picture for this weekend seems pretty clear: We’ll see clouds and pretty healthy rain chances on Friday and Saturday before a fairly strong cold front moves into the region. But will the front arrive on Saturday afternoon? Or Sunday morning? Right now I don’t know, and that’s going to have a big impact on daily weather conditions. The bottom line is that most of the area should see some much needed rain toward the end of this week—perhaps 1 to 3 inches—before a more winter-like front moves through. We may even finally see some lows in the 30s by the time early December rolls around.

Message from Reliant

A few conscious energy choices can make a big difference in your winter electricity bill. Considering heating and cooling costs account for nearly 50 percent of your electricity bill, increased heater usage can lead to higher-than-normal winter bills — if energy efficiency measures aren’t taken. An annual heater tune-up is recommended to make sure your furnace or heat pump is clean and in good working order, so that it can run as efficiently as it should.

Reliant has a few tips you can do immediately to reduce energy consumption and still stay comfortable. Best of all, they’re simple and free.

  • Let the sun in. Open blinds and shades during the day and remove any solar screens so the sun can warm your home.
  • On vs. auto. Ensure the fan on your thermostat is set to “auto” not “on” to prevent it from running 24/7.
  • Check your thermostat settings. For every degree above 70°, you can expect a 3-5 percent increase in your heating costs.
  • Turn your ceiling fan to clockwise position. By turning your ceiling fan to the clockwise position, you can help force warm air down to create a more comfortable environment in colder seasons.
  • Put your thermostat on vacation mode. Drop your thermostat to 50° if you’ll be gone for a few days or more. This is warm enough to prevent your pipes from freezing and won’t waste energy warming an empty home.
  • Set your water heater to 120°. This is hot enough to be sanitary while saving you up to $60 a year on your heating bill.
  • Use exhaust fans in moderation. Be mindful of how often you’re using bathroom or utility room vents as they can remove heat from your home.
  • Close damper on fireplace. When not in use, ensure the damper on your fireplace is closed so heat does not escape up the chimney.

Drought continues to gradually expand in Texas

Posted by Matt Lanza at 6:21 AM

Good morning! Right out of the gate, we are experiencing some dense fog this morning all over the place away from the coast. If you’re out and about through about 9 or 10 AM, please use caution. Conditions should improve after that. More below.

Drought update

As I have the last couple Fridays, I’m going to talk about drought this week, and in fact, I’m going to lead with drought.

Drought will continue to gradually expand across Texas. While it is not a huge issue for us now, that could change in the weeks ahead. (US Drought Monitor)

The Houston region (the footprint of the National Weather Service forecast office, at least) has seen drought expand from about 42 percent of the region last week to 59 percent this week. Severe drought covered a little over 4 percent of the region last week, and has since expanded to cover about 11 percent this week. Most of that is in the Brazos Valley or north of there. Harris County is just now emerging in “abnormally dry,” the precursor to a true drought. Outlying areas are already there. Texas as a whole has seen drought expand over about three-quarters of the state. The question now becomes how bad does it get? That’s a tough one to answer. Over the next 5 days at least (which gets us to the end of the next drought monitor update), we will see scant rainfall.

Expected rainfall through next Tuesday night doesn’t look very impressive at all. (NOAA forecast via Pivotal Weather)

Beyond that? Well, the National Weather Service isn’t exactly optimistic. Their 30 day outlook released yesterday calls for a better than 50 percent chance of below average rainfall. That means drier than normal weather is expected to persist into December.

NOAA’s 30 day rainfall outlook is showing fairly high confidence of below average rainfall continuing into December. (NOAA)

That does not necessarily mean we’re heading for a serious drought, but here’s a statistic. We are in a La Niña event right now, meaning the waters of the tropical Pacific are running cooler than normal. Using the Oceanic Niño Index and filtering for winters that saw at least 2 periods at or below -1 between November and March (indicative of what I would classify as a firmly moderate La Niña event), we can compare rainfall averages. In a normal December through March, Houston officially receives 13.73″ of rainfall on average. In just those La Niña years since 1980, we’ve averaged 11.92″ of rainfall. So there is a definite skew toward a drier than normal winter. If we can be bailed out every now and again by a rain event, that goes a long way toward mitigating drought a bit. Over the next 3 to 4 weeks at least, that does not seem likely, however. We’ll see.

On to the shorter-term forecast.

Today through Sunday

Again, just watch for fog this morning. Once the fog lifts, expect a mix of clouds and sun the rest of today. I do expect a few showers around the area, none too serious, but just don’t be shocked to see some minor rain. Highs will be close to 80 degrees this afternoon.

More fog is possible tonight with lows in the 60s. Look for a mix of clouds and sun otherwise on Saturday, another very slight chance for a shower, and highs near 80 degrees.

Sunday should be more of the same, although fog risk may be just a little lower in the morning: Lows in the 60s and highs in the upper-70s or low-80s.

Monday front & Tuesday

A cold front is aiming to slice through the region on Monday. There honestly does not appear to be much to this front, either rain-wise or “cold” wise. We should see sunshine develop for Monday with slightly lower humidity. Expect highs in the 70s with morning lows in the 50s. We’ll get another slightly cooler night Monday night, followed up by quick return to warmer temperatures Tuesday, along with a slight shower chance. Highs on Tuesday should bounce back close to 80 degrees.

Beyond Tuesday

The weather pattern that we’re in is one that features a very quick moving, mostly low-amplitude jet stream. This means we will see continued cold fronts but probably not a lot of truly cold air. Basically, what I would call Goldilocks weather with a touch of humidity at times.

You can see the impact of the fronts through Wednesday mainly reflected in nighttime low temperatures, which cool just a bit each time a front passes. Another, slightly stronger front is likely next weekend. (NWS forecast via Weather Bell)

Models continue to point toward another front on Wednesday that, as Eric has noted this week, would usher in pleasant weather for Thanksgiving Day. We will stick to that again today. However, it does look like we will quickly warm up on Friday before yet another front arrives next weekend. That front could have a little oomph behind it, although despite all these fronts, right now it seems that we will see relatively little rainfall. And so it goes.

Fundraiser

I just want to again thank our readers for their support during our fundraiser. There’s still some time left if you want to grab some Space City Weather swag. We sincerely appreciate your support, both now and year-round! It truly means so much to us.

Good morning. Lows have bottomed out at around 60 degrees this morning, and now we’ll see warmer conditions through the weekend as the onshore flow gets going. Houston’s very, very dry air from earlier this week is now long gone and we’re not quite sure when it will return.

Thursday

Rising moisture levels have led to the formation of some clouds this morning, but skies should clear out some this afternoon, allowing highs to climb to around 80 degrees. Winds will generally be light, out of the southeast. Overnight lows should only drop to the mid-60s for most areas tonight. These temperatures are about 10 degrees warmer than we normally would experience in late November.

Forecast lows for the Houston region on Friday morning. (Weather Bell)

Friday

With light winds, and little difference between dewpoints and temperatures, we likely will see some fog develop on Friday morning across parts of the Houston region. There’s some split in the models, but I think we’ll probably see at least partly, if not mostly cloudy skies during much of the daytime. There is maybe a 10 percent chance of rain on Friday, but don’t hold your breath for a fleeting shower.

Saturday

The first half of the weekend will probably see partly to mostly sunny skies, with highs near 80 degrees. There’s really not much to complain about here, but the air definitely won’t feel crisp, with fairly high humidity levels pervading.

Sunday

The second half of the weekend should bring more of the same, mostly sunny weather and highs of around 80 to the region. There may be, again, some slight rain chances for the region during the daytime but it’s a low-end chance of 10 to 20 percent. Our next front is still a very strong “probably” in terms of pushing into the region. I think it will have enough oomph to make it to the coast by Monday morning but I can’t guarantee it.

On overview of three possible, but not guaranteed fronts. (Weather Bell)

Next week and Thanksgiving

The front should knock highs back into the 70s, with some drier air, and overnight lows may drop into the mid- to upper-50s for Houston. (But again, this is contingent on the front making it all the way through).

The models are similarly pointing to another weak front arriving on Wednesday or so, which would just be in time to bring us a Thanksgiving with drier air and highs in the 70s. But this is not a certainty either. For those seeking demonstrably cooler air, we probably will have to wait until next weekend, at the end of November.

Good morning. Thank you for your patience with this morning’s post. With dry air and temperatures dropping into the low 50s in my neck of the woods—and no certainty for when that might happen again—I cranked out a very long training run this morning. The roads were certainly nice and quiet at 4 a.m. And our weather, too, will be mostly quiet in the days ahead, with little excitement.

Wednesday

Skies will again be mostly sunny on Wednesday, but temperatures will be a little warmer, and the air a little more humid, thanks to subtle shift in winds, which are now blowing from the east at 5 to 10 mph. Low temperatures tonight will probably drop down into the 50s for most of Houston, but conditions will be warmer near the coast.

Low temperature forecast for Thursday morning. (Pivotal Weather)

Thursday and Friday

As winds shift to come from the southeast on Thursday, we may see a few more clouds, and humidity levels will continue to creep up. Highs both days will reach about 80 degrees, and lows will likely only drop into the 60s for all but the most inland of areas.

Saturday and Sunday

The weekend will see more of the same, which is to say mostly sunny skies, and highs around 80 degrees. Nighttime temperatures will again be in the 60s. The biggest outstanding question is the timing and strength of a front that probably will push into Houston on Sunday night or Monday morning.

The models are generally in agreement that the front will in fact make it through Houston, although that is not something I’d bet the farm on. Not that I own a farm. In any case, this front probably will drop highs back into the 70s, and lows into the 50s for most of the area. Emphasis on probably. Will we see any precipitation with the front? Maybe, but I think chances are only about 20 percent, and any accumulations will be light. We’ll try to have a better answer on Sunday’s rainfall potential tomorrow.

The rainfall outlook for now through the weekend still looks dry. (Pivotal Weather)

Thanksgiving week

Given the general uncertainty surrounding Sunday night’s probable front, the forecast becomes pretty murky, pretty quickly next week. The models are hinting at another front possibly making it through late Wednesday or on Thursday—which would be Thanksgiving. I sort of hope a front makes it, because otherwise Thanksgiving could be 80 degrees and humid. Perhaps some clarity will emerge on this in a day or two.

We’ll be back to our normal schedule tomorrow! Also, I think we’ve solved the formatting issues with the daily emails, but if you’re still have problems please let us know.