Month: June 2019

And now, Mother Nature turns up the heat in Houston

Posted by Eric Berger at 6:48 AM

Houston has enjoyed some moderately cooler weather over the last week or so, and the official high temperature at Bush Intercontinental Airport has not risen to 95 degrees or above since June 9. Well, it’s about time to go back into the frying pan. Also, if you missed Matt’s tropical update on Tuesday, I encourage you to check it out, as it provides an overview of what we’re looking at over the next few weeks.

Wednesday

Highs today should be in the mid-90s with lots of sunshine. The atmosphere remains fairly moist, so it will be quite humid as well. Looking further afield, strong thunderstorms are possible in the Dallas-Fort Worth area later today or tonight, along with supercells that could produce tornadoes. Conditions are not perfect for such storms, but there’s an “enhanced” environment according to NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center. So if you’re traveling north today, bear that in mind.

Strong storms are possible in the Dallas-Fort Worth area today. (NOAA)

This line of storms should sag south tonight, but forecast modeling indicates that it will peter out as it moves into counties well north of Houston, and likely die completely before reaching Montgomery County. Mostly, the Houston area can just expect a partly cloudy, warm night with low temperatures only falling to around degrees. That’s downright sultry.

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Eric and I had a conversation this spring to discuss some new ideas for the site, and ways to help readers navigate hurricane season. We absolutely feel people’s uneasiness every time it rains here, and a general sensitivity to the rumor and speculation that springs to life during hurricane season. So we have decided that every week or two, we will publish a more in-depth outlook for tropical activity in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico so that you understand what’s happening, and what could happen in the next couple weeks.

Tropical outlook in a sentence

Tropical development is unlikely over the next week or so across the Atlantic Basin, but we are eyeing July for a possible increase in activity.

Near-term summary

Historically, we would watch the Bay of Campeche and Gulf this time of year for development.

Historically, storms have formed in the Gulf and Bay of Campeche in the final third of June. (NOAA/NHC)

As of now, no tropical activity is expected over the next week, as conditions should remain mostly unfavorable for storms to develop in those areas and elsewhere.

Looking at satellite imagery from Tuesday morning, we have a couple tropical waves moving across the eastern Caribbean and a couple disorganized waves elsewhere.

The tropics show a few disorganized disturbances and mostly calm conditions today. (College of DuPage)

None of these waves is a candidate for development as of right now, and if anything, they should fizzle out and stay safely away. So: Good news, as we just don’t see much of anything out there.

Weather model fantasy-land

One of the biggest hurdles to good tropical information during hurricane season in the social media era is a tendency for folks to mention a model solution with zero context or just because it shows something extreme. You’ll see something like, “This model is just one solution but it shows a category 10 hurricane in the Gulf in 15 days! You probably shouldn’t believe it, but here it is anyway.”

Is there anything showing up on the models in days 10-15? Not at this time. The GFS model, which is the most frequent offender with fantasy-land storms is quiet right now. The GFS tends to have a bias early in the hurricane season, and then again later in the hurricane season. The bias is worst in May and early June, where it can often spin up systems in the Caribbean that never materialize. I tried to run the math on it last season, and during the month of May 2018, 79% of the time the GFS showed a storm beyond day 10, it never materialized.

Now, the GFS model was recently upgraded which should hopefully lead to reduced false alarms, but we won’t know much about that in practice until next May. Within the season, it still seems to show more false alarms than not, and Eric and I try to sort through the noise for you. Let this just serve as a reminder to be cautious of extreme modeled solutions posted on social media without much context.

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Monday marked the first time in more than three weeks that the high temperature in Houston did not reach at least 90 degrees, but now we’ll put our brief flirtation with somewhat cooler behind us as high pressure begins to build over the area today. Perhaps the biggest question about the forecast from now through the end of the work week is whether highs in the days ahead will reach the mid- or upper-90s.

Also, be on the lookout later today for a tropical update from Matt. There is nothing imminent, but we want to keep readers apprised of what we’re thinking and seeing as we look ahead over the next week or two in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. When we get into July, we probably will begin posting these on a weekly basis, and then probably more frequently during the peak periods of August and early September.

Most of Texas will be in the 90s Tuesday. In a few days there will be more 100s. (Pivotal Weather)

Tuesday

There isn’t much movement in the atmosphere today, which means that despite a fairly moist atmosphere any shower development should be scattered at best. High resolution models are indicating the best chances for rain may come down near Matagorda Bay, or to the northeast of the Houston metro area. In any case, for the most part we should see a mostly sunny day with highs in the low- to mid-90s.

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Overnight rains and storms—there were definitely some impressive lightning displays late Sunday and early Monday—have largely moved to the coast and offshore. Most of the region saw 1 to 3 inches from Sunday through this morning although a few locations, including parts of Montgomery County, saw totals of nearly 4 inches. One benefit of Sunday night’s storms is significantly cooler weather this morning, with rain-cooled lows in the upper 60s for much of Houston. Enjoy this while it lasts.

Rain totals for the 24 hours prior to 6am Monday. (Texas MesoNet)

Monday

The atmosphere is pretty worked over, so although some light rains will be possible today, we’re unlikely to see any real storm activity except near the coast (seas offshore are choppy, to say the least). With lingering clouds, however, temperatures today may only rise into the mid-80s for most of the region. Houston has reached 90 degrees every day so far this month, so that would offer a nice reprieve from the summertime heat we’ve been experiencing. Skies should be partly cloudy tonight, with lows in the mid-70s.

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