As Houston’s heat wave intensifies, let’s discuss the tropics silly season

Good morning. Houston’s heat wave will continue for the foreseeable future, at least through the early part of next week and possibly longer. Temperatures will peak this weekend, likely reaching 100 degrees for much of the area and setting numerous records. With high pressure dominating, rain chances will continue to remain low to non-existent.

This morning I’d also like to address what might perhaps be best characterized as “tropics silly season.” This is when “scary” maps showing a large hurricane striking Texas or other parts of the Gulf coast are shared on social media, as has been happening this week. These forecast maps are typically not falsified. They’re real products, but they are not representative of reality. What I mean is that the computer model has indeed generated such an output, but this output often comes at 12-, or 14-, or even 16-days after initialization, and therefore simply no longer bears any reality toward what will happen. Weather models simply cannot provide this specific of a forecast, that far out.

They key to spotting such tropical scare fodder is to look at the forecast hour of the output. If it is greater than 240 hours (10 days) it can safely be discounted. Take the forecast below from the US Global Forecast System model, which came out on Wednesday morning. Now the GFS model has plenty of uses, but it has a known bias for generating phantom storms at this time of year. Anyone sharing this is doing so out of ignorance, at best, and malevolence, at worst.

On the face of it this model output looks intimidating. But note the forecast hour, 360. That means it’s a forecast for 15 days from now. (Tropical Tidbits)

The bottom line is that the model may indeed be picking up on increasing tropical moisture in the Caribbean Sea or Gulf of Mexico in about 10 days time. And something may come of it. But the most likely scenario, by far, is that anything tropical that forms would stay away from the upper Texas coast.


Today will be hot and sunny, with high temperatures in the upper 90s. The heat index will near dangerous levels this afternoon so please take care outside. Overnight lows will fall into the upper 70s, except for the coast which will remain in the low-80s. Winds will be light, out of the south.

High temperatures on Saturday will be downright uncomfortable. (Weather Bell)

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

More of the same. I’d expect the heat to peak on Saturday and Sunday, with high temperatures reaching 100 degrees for much of the area.

Next week

As winds turn more southerly, we probably will see high temperatures drop back into the upper-90s, and possibly mid-90s. I don’t see much of a chance for a pattern change until at least the second half of next week, and even then it seems that our weather is unlikely to change a whole lot. We shall see.

28 thoughts on “As Houston’s heat wave intensifies, let’s discuss the tropics silly season”

  1. I really don’t like weather forecasters this time of year. Why? Because I hate summer and the extreme heat and humidity, and SOMEONE must be blamed! So, well, sorry – you’re it! 😉 Just kidding! I appreciate your approach to forecasting without hyperbole and scaring people UNLESS there is a real cause for fear. When I see YOU say “hey, be worried about this”, THEN I get worried. But this heat….someone needs to invent an A/C suit, LOL And the heat definitely is something to worry about. Everyone needs to be careful if they have to be out in it for a long period of time. Hydration and frequent breaks.

  2. Thank you for information on silly season storm forecasts. This has been all over social media. Some people just want attention I guess.

  3. Ignorance, malevolence OR (lately) with the graphic and a lengthy explanation on how they’re monitoring it and don’t worry yet so that they can be first to publish it and drive clicks to meet whatever media group’s KPIs but I’m not bitter yo.

    • So,this fake?does tis map usually good at predicting hurricanes? Please tell me Eric right and its false and it won’t hae

  4. 108 days to Fall Day give or take a couple of weeks…
    Relief is right around the corner!

  5. these malevolent silly gooses need to stop being so silly!

  6. I think it makes sense to squarely place all forecasted tropical events > 240 hours squarely over Katy… only.

  7. Thank you so much for addressing these long- term forecasts by a certain individual on social media! I asked this individual how can he show a map depicting a severe storm basically at our front door in a couple of weeks and then the very next day when people are inquiring about that scenario he tells them oh it’s probably not going to be a threat to the Texas Coast or even the Gulf Coast. He went on to say that he’s not the typical weather forecaster that sensationalizes the weather & I should follow him. Uh no thanks.🙄

    • It allows forecasters a way to corollate data to the models extremes. They can tweak the inputs to the model and see how the model matches reality at the 14 day mark.

  8. Once again, Eric provides useful information and busts down foolish fantasy forecasts that foment fear (okay, I’ll stop with the alliteration).

    Context in these forecasts (e.g. don’t worry about those that show a 14+ day forecast) is important. But, to make your life simple: just read this website daily and take a cue from what Eric and Matt say to worry about weather-wise.

    This is another reason why you won’t find me on the Book of Face or other social media. Too much noise.

  9. SE Texas could certainly benefit from the high pressure moving away and allow tropical moisture to flow inland.

  10. Just imagine,.. not if, but rather..when we are hit by major storm system. What will the effects have on our community, concerning all the variants (COVID,etc..), fuel,.. and so many other possibilities that could easily aggravate those who are prone to violence. I love Houston,. but I am leaving in about a weeks time, to start a new beginning away from what I refer to the ‘bowl of soup ‘(Houston is under sea level correct?)…i hope I am wrong, but we all see how economy is affecting Houstonians, and from what I witnessed, it’s not so nice.

    • Downtown Houston has an elevation of about 50 feet. Perhaps you’re thinking of New Orleans?

  11. Thanks for this, Eric. You and Matt do a great job of keeping sanity to model interpretation. Having been in the electric utility industry for more than 41 years, I have a special interest in keeping an eye on Tropical Forecasts during this time of year. Yes, it’s okay to LOOK at what long term models (10 to 15 days out) are speculating, but it’s my personal feeling that reasonable tropical forecasts begin in the 7 to 9 day range, and achieve even more accuracy – and levels of trustworthiness – in the 3 to 5 day range, as the potential event begins to unfold and reveal potential impacts. Thanks for “keeping it real.” – Sid Sperry, Guthrie, OK

    • So this is fake?no hurricane? I got scared when I saw photo.but he said away from Texas if ones even happens.

  12. So if current computer models are “inaccurate” at best more than 10 days out, how can someone say that any climate change model can predict what will happen 50 years from now with any believable accuracy. This doesn’t mean we should ignore possible impacts, and from an environmental standpoint, we ought to reduce consumption of ALL forms of energy, water, etc. We also ought to maximize use of recycled materials.

    Note I am a “scientist” with a Bachelor of Science Chemistry, and spent 25 years in the “forecasting business.” (Supply, demand, pricing) None of these forecasts of 2-10 years out were precise. I understand probabilities and statistics, risk projection, etc.

    • I get your position your trying to make, but when you bring up climate change it tends to bring the risk of weird comments

      • That’s true, and from both extremes – the deniers who say “do nothing,” and the alarmists who say “in 10 years we’ll all be dead.” The deniers should consider that all natural resources are finite in quantity, and that we save $ and protect the environment by using less. The alarmists should consider that the Laws of Thermodynamics prohibit achieving “net zero carbon.” Were that possible, we could build a perpetual motion machine and shut down ALL new energy production.

    • Someone once said that humans are deterministic beings in a probabalistic universe. And a slightly less pretentious way of saying that is: we crave certainty in a world that won’t give us any. If we roll a dice 600 times it’s highly likely 100 of those rolls will be a 6. But even if you know what the previous 599 dice rolls were, the exact roll of the 600th is…still (maddeningly) uncertain.

      So we want to know if a deadly storm will be on our doorstep in 14 days. We cannot know that with much certainty. But over the course of a season we can estimate how many deadly storms are likely to occur, and we make preparations that help us deal with that uncertainty. It lets our certainty-craving minds consider what the risks are, what the consequences might be, have a plan for if the worst should happen…and hopefully this helps us sleep at night (if the heat allows!).

      As the timescales shrink (to a few days) the uncertainties shrink also, but so do the options we have to respond. All you can do 3-5 days out is decide whether or not to leave. But the timescales thing works both ways: if you consider longer timescales (say 10-20 years) your options grow. You can take other actions (like hurricane-proofing cities and investing in flood-resilient buildings) that reduce the impact and consequences if the worst should happen. But that means having faith in a science-led approach that considers that the probabalistic models are right.

      Climate change is occuring on a planet-wide basis. The forces are huge. As timescales shrink (and sea levels rise, and start to exacerbate other issues like degradation of ecosystems, conflict over scarce resources, etc.) there will be very little we can do when the most deadly impacts arrive. So we need to consider those longer (50 year) timescales and take action now to mitigate effects. We understand the physics of how more CO2 in the atmosphere changes climate. We have very accurate (albeit probabalistic) models that calculate the risks and predict the consequences.

      But do we trust them?

      H. L. Mencken once warned, “Never argue with a man whose job depends on not being convinced.”. Replace ‘job’ with ‘comfort’. I think the biggest challenge we have is the intergenerational nature of climate change. I will likely not be here in 20-30 years but my teenage sons will be. Trusting the models means I need to make sacrifices now for future generations. Are enough people willing to do that? I hope so.

      • Your points are well taken.

        I’m not a skeptic about climate change. I am a skeptic about some of the solutions proposed, such as “eliminating all fossil fuels within 10 years.” How does that happen while building millions of wind generators over the same time frame? The generator blades themselves are made from fiberglass reinforced polymers, and those polymers are derived from crude oil and natural gas. They are shipped across oceans on ships burning diesel fuel. And the oversize tractor trailer rigs carrying those blades also burn diesel fuel. Oil and products derived from it became the dominant source of energy the past 120 years or so because a unit volume of fossil fuel contains more energy than any other substitute.

        I’m in the same inter-generational boat as you are so I have the same concern. When I was working, I used vanpools and carpools for my commute to both conserve energy and save money. My personal “carbon footprint” was far lower than if I had driven alone in my car. And my next car will be a gasoline-hybrid, because I’m not willing to spend $50,000 or more for an electric car that has a far lower mileage range per “fill-up.”

        What also is important is that the “solution” to this problem isn’t worse than the problem itself. For hybrids and 100% electric cars, the batteries depend on rare earth metals, the mining and refining of which have a huge environmental footprint. The huge trucks used in the metal ore open pit mines run on diesel fuel.

        Getting to a state where 100% of our electricity comes from some renewable source will require huge advances in energy storage technology. A 100% electric vehicle fleet will require huge investment in the electrical grid. All of the manufacturing required produces GHGs. At the simplest level, every time the net global population increases by one person, CO2 emissions increase every time that person exhales. Add the food, energy, and “gadgets” that person consumes over a lifetime and GHG volumes are significantly larger.

        I stand by my comment that “net zero carbon” is thermodynamically impossible to achieve. There ALWAYS will be a net increase, but the issue is minimizing it. The science of thermodynamics is as equally true as the science that continued uncontrolled emissions of GHGs will make climate conditions worse.

        Bottom line, I am committed to using energy as efficiently as I possibly can. If you wish to pursue further discussion, please email [email protected]

  13. I guess I must be not following the wrong people already – this is the first I’m seeing of this map. I don’t think I follow anyone else for weather on Facebook than Space City, and that’s looking like a really smart thing just now.

  14. Thank you so much for your honest weather reports! Since it’s going to be so miserable for awhile, I’d like to remind people to please keep their pets inside if possible, and if not, ensure that they have shade and plenty of water! Also, please remember to check on your neighbors and friends, especially the elderly, to make sure the heat hasn’t gotten to them. 😊

  15. We could use the rain! Looks scary but those purple shades depict the 80mph mark on arrival with a quick deceleration inland. Arrival Further south and with a nice slow curve would put a big dent in the drought! I know I’m missing your point entirely, but we have a farm in Wharton County and the ongoing Texas drought has been brutal.

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