Arctic air now moving into the Houston area, expect very low temperatures tonight

The long-advertised front has arrived, bringing a sharp dose if frigid air diving down from the Arctic Circle. Wind gusts this afternoon have exceeded 40 mph at multiple locations this afternoon, including a top speed of 48 mph at Hobby Airport. As of 5:30 pm CT, air temperatures remain just above freezing in the Houston metro area, but that will not last long as the mercury starts to drop tonight.

Cooldown

Houston is headed into the icebox for a solid 36 hours. Lows tonight will likely fall into the mid- to upper-teens for all the metro area, aside from the immediate coast, which may hold at 20 degrees or slightly above. Even will full sunshine on Friday, high temperatures may only briefly reach 32 degrees during the afternoon, whereas areas further inland may only top out at about 30 degrees. Conditions will be very cold again on Friday night, with lows perhaps only 2 to 5 degrees warmer than Thursday night. By Saturday, finally, the area should see highs of around 40 degrees.

Reasonable “worst case” scenario for low temperatures on Friday morning. (Weather Bell)

The good news is that there is no snow or ice on roadways, so aside from blustery conditions it is safe to drive throughout the greater Houston area and beyond. Roads will remain dry through Christmas Day and beyond.

Power

One of the major problems during the February 2021 freeze was the lack of power, when “rolling” blackouts became permanent due to poor management of the Texas electricity grid and a lack of oversight for proper winterization of power plants. It does appear this problem has been solved. ERCOT is reporting excess power generating capacity, and expects to have electricity to meet demands overnight as temperatures plummet across the state. You can track supply and demand in real time here.

Next post

Matt will have a comprehensive update for you by around 6:30 am CT on Friday. Until such time, please stay warm, make sure your pets and neighbors have the shelter they need, and take care of one another. It is the holiday season, after all!

12 thoughts on “Arctic air now moving into the Houston area, expect very low temperatures tonight”

    • I’m guessing this is due to the wind, rather than the cold. I’ve heard of lines being down due to tree branches on the Houston subreddit.

  1. Thank you both for all that you do! Whenever there is a weather related crisis in this area, y’all are the team I turn to for reliable, based information. Keep it up!

  2. Thank you both SO much. It’s really nice to feel safe with you at the helm! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

  3. Thank you for a facts rather than fear handling of this latest round of “historical weather”. TV has a lot to learn from you guys (in fact, I haven’t watched local news since Monday).

    I saw the ERCOT forecasts too. Needless to say they have a trust deficit with me.

    Oh, yes – this cold snap has made BBC World News all day.

  4. Yeah, if ERCOT does not turn off the power to the natural gas pipeline electric motors (20 MW to 50 MW each) this time, the state should run a lot better.

  5. “One of the major problems during the February 2021 freeze was the lack of power, when “rolling” blackouts became permanent due to poor management of the Texas electricity grid and a lack of oversight for proper winterization of power plants. It does appear this problem has been solved.”

    Well, maybe. One of the largest reasons the power grid failed, as I’m sure we all remember, was the formation of ice accumulation on the natural gas pipelines and some wind turbines that weren’t actively running. All due to precipitation. None of that here, so other than winds knocking down power poles I feel fairly comfortable that the grid will hold up as well.

    Just wanted to point out that it wasn’t just the ‘cold’ weather that killed the grid in 2021.

  6. I live about twelve miles outside Cleveland, Texas, on a small farm. The drop in temp. started about 4:30 p.m. by 5:30 p.m., our power was out. Entergy, Texas supplies our power. They estimate power may return around 1:30 a.m. If this continues over the next five days, this will be miserable.

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