Houston may break a record this year for latest strong cold front

After a prolonged period of wet weather, the Houston region will see a moderate reprieve as we break from a pattern of widespread, daily rainfall. (Showers aren’t going away entirely, however). It is during this break that we will look for the region’s first real fall cold front. We’re overdue, now—way overdue. As you may recall, we’ve made the arbitrary decision to define this front as the first night after September 1 with an overnight low temperature of 65 degrees or lower at Bush Intercontinental Airport.

Houston’s first fall cold front. (Brian Brettschneider)

The average date for this first front is Sept. 18—two weeks ago—but there is a wide range of variability. For example, it is not unheard of for the first front to arrive in October. It happens about once every 10 years, on average. However, it is rare to get too deep into October without a cold front, and the latest Houston has waited since at least 1889 is October 13th. I’m afraid we’re in danger of setting this record this year.

Per the ensembles of the GFS and European forecast models, the region’s first cold front is unlikely to arrive in Houston this year any time before a time period between Oct. 11 and Oct. 15—nine or 10 days from now. Ughhhhhh.

Tuesday and Wednesday

As higher pressures move into the region, our weather pattern will turn moderately warmer, with high temperatures likely in the upper 80s. Temperatures will ultimately depend upon the amount of sunshine this afternoon, as we expect partly sunny skies. Rain chances will fall back into the 30 percent range, with showers most likely during the late morning and afternoon hours along with daytime heating. Lows in the mid-70s.

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Not sorry to be saying goodbye to a soggy September

Well, we made it through the end of September. And a strange month it was. No tropical storms or hurricanes hit Texas, and yet it has been one of the wettest months in the state’s history. Much of the state received 200 to 400 percent normal levels of rainfall, including all coastal areas of the Houston region (Galveston will record its second wettest September ever, and third wettest month of all time).

Departure from normal rainfall for the last 30 days. (NOAA)

As a result, at the end of a summer in which no tropical storms or hurricanes moved into, or near Texas, the state finishes the hottest part of the year with just eight percent of the state in a “severe” or worse drought. This is a really healthy posture to be in, compared to typical years for Texas at the end of September.

U.S. Drought Monitor.

That does not mean September has been particularly fun. Heavy rainfall during the last month has, on at least three occasions, brought significant flooding to Galveston Island and other coastal areas. For much of the region, nearly all of September was a soggy, humid mess with cloudy days and steamy nights. Speaking personally, I am not sorry to see it in the rear view mirror. Now, onto the forecast.

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