Sure, all this dry air is lovely. But is it ever going to rain again?

Good morning. The major weather story in the United States continues to have nothing to do with Houston. Now-Tropical Storm Ian has continued its devastating trek across central Florida overnight, bringing strong winds and deluging rainfall to areas such as Orlando, and knocking out power to one-quarter of the state. Ian’s center will soon emerge over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean, allowing the storm to make a second landfall into South Carolina on Friday. Yesterday, on Ars Technica, I wrote about why this is the kind of storm that gives me nightmares as a forecaster.

Houston, and much of Texas, lie on the backside of Ian’s massive circulation. This means we’re going to see a continued flow of dry air through the weekend, bringing us warm days in the upper 80s, and lows near 60 for much of Houston, with nights in the 50s for inland areas. For this time of year, this is a potent and prolonged front.

Thursday

Look for highs today in the upper 80s with sunny skies. Winds will be light, out of the northeast at 5 to 10 mph. Low temperatures tonight will drop to 60 degrees in Houston, and a few areas near Conroe and points further inland may drop all the way to 50 degrees beneath clear skies. It has not been this chilly in Houston since at least early April.

Low temperatures on Thursday night will be the coldest in nearly six months. (Weather Bell)

Friday

Basically, the same marvelous day and night as Thursday.

Saturday and Sunday

The air mass will start to modify slightly this weekend, but our air is still going to remain plenty dry for this time of year. Look for highs in the mid- to upper-80s, and nights in the low 60s. The weather should be spectacular for our first-ever Fall Day celebration, which will take place from 10 am to noon. Come by and say hello to Matt, myself, Maria, Dwight, and Lee, enjoy plenty of activities for adults and kids, and walk around the beautiful Houston Botanic Garden. It’s free, and just our way of welcoming fall-like weather back to Houston after a long summer. If you’re so inclined, you can RSVP here. So far we’ve had a great response!

Next week

Conditions starting by Monday or Tuesday of next week will feel somewhere between summer and fall in Houston, with highs generally about 90 degrees, lows in the upper 60s, and partly to mostly sunny skies. The air, however, will be drier than it usually is during summer, so it won’t be oppressively humid during the days. Mornings and evenings should be reasonably pleasant outside. Another front is possible in about 10 days times, give or take.

Is it ever going to rain again?

Some parts of Houston have not recorded meaningful rainfall in nearly four weeks. The region’s main weather monitoring sites, Bush Intercontinental, Hobby Airport, and Galveston, are all nearly 4 inches below normal on rainfall this month. Unfortunately, that’s not going to change during the last couple of days of September, or the first week of October. Our next real chance of rain probably will not come until the October 8 to 10 time frame, so not this weekend, but the following one. And even then rainfall is far from a certainty. This is not a great place to be, as La Niña is expected to persist through this winter, which tends to bring drier conditions in Texas, including the greater Houston region.

While Texas slides into fall, an extremely dangerous hurricane slams into Florida

Good morning. The majority of the Houston region has dropped into the low 60s this morning as cool, dry air blankets the area. This week’s front will have sticking power as Texas falls on the backside of the extremely powerful Hurricane Ian, which will bring a catastrophic storm surge to southwest Florida later today. The slow-moving storm, with sustained winds of 155 mph, is the kind of hurricane that destroys communities. Frankly, this is the kind of storm I worry most about when I think of Houston and its vulnerabilities to tropical weather. We need to be ready to help Floridians in the days and weeks ahead.

Wednesday

Given Florida’s misery it feels almost guilty to write that Houston’s forecast looks absolutely splendid. Yes, today will be warm again, with a high of about 90 degrees beneath mostly sunny skies. But with continued dry air, we can expect nighttime lows to drop into the upper 50s for areas well inland, low 60s for the city, and slightly warmer conditions right along the coast. Winds will be out of the northeast at 5 to 10 mph.

Thursday and Friday

These should be the driest and coolest days of the week, as the northeasterly flow in the wake of Ian reaches its maximum. Look for sunny days with highs in the mid-80s, and lows dropping to around 60 degrees in Houston. This is just spectacular weather for late September.

Low temperature forecast for Saturday morning in Houston. (Weather Bell)

Saturday and Sunday

Mostly dry air remains in place this weekend, with highs generally in the upper 80s, sunny skies, and lows in the low 60s. As a reminder, we’re holding a Fall Day Celebration from 10am to Noon CT on Sunday at Houston Botanic Garden. See more details here. The event is free and you don’t need tickets. Please come by and say hello.

Next week

The air mass over the region will slowly modify next week as humidity starts to return. But it looks like nighttime temperatures will still be dropping into the upper 60s, so it’s not going to be a full-on return to summer-like weather. Some slight rain chances start to return to the forecast about a week from now, but they’re iffy at best.

Extremely powerful Hurricane Ian approaches Florida this morning.

Hurricane Ian

The category-5 hurricane now has sustained winds of 155 mph, and will make landfall near Port Charlotte in Southwest Florida this afternoon. It will push a surge of 12 to 16 feet of water into the state. Ian will then slowly track northeast across Florida for much of the next two days, bringing flooding rains and damaging structures will wind gusts well above hurricane force. There are three main threats from hurricanes—wind, surge, and inland rainfall—and unfortunately Ian is going to bring awful doses of all three in the next few days to Florida. The storm is then likely to move into the southeastern Atlantic Ocean and make a second landfall on Georgia and South Carolina Friday, albeit as a much weaker system.

Happy Fall Day, Houston! Here’s how you can celebrate with us this weekend

Good morning. Every year at Space City Weather we like to mark the day following the arrival of the season’s first real cool front as “Fall Day,” and today is that day. Matt and I really feel that this should be a holiday in Houston, so this year we’re actually going to celebrate it!

He and I, along with everyone else associated with the site, are going to be host a “Fall Day” celebration at the Houston Botanic Garden on Sunday from 10 am to Noon CT. The event is free, and will have activities for kids and adults. Please come by and say hello. You can show your interest in the event by RSVP’ing here. This is not mandatory, of course, but it will help our planners at Reliant get a better idea of what to expect.

We’re holding the event on Sunday morning because it gives us time to organize activities along with the venue, which is a beautiful place to walk around and enjoy nature. While some of the drier air should be gone by then, Sunday should still be cooler and drier than a typical summer day, especially during the pre-noon hours. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday

Temperatures are starting out in the 50s north of Houston, while most of the rest of the region away from the coast is in the low 60s. With dewpoints down around 50 degrees it feels fantastic outside. Given this drier air and clear skies, our air will still warm efficiently this afternoon, with high temperatures reaching about 90 degrees. Winds are light, out of the northeast at 5 to 10 mph. Lows tonight should again drop into the upper 50s for inland areas, with much of the metro area in the low 60s.

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday

The remainder of the week should bring more of the same: warm sunny days, clear and cooler nights, and plenty of dry air. Northerly winds may turn a bit gustier by Thursday or so, as our region falls on the backside of powerful Hurricane Ian. As a result, this will be the rare early fall front that not just hangs around, but brings even cooler weather a few days after the fact. Lows this week will probably reach their coolest level by Thursday night or Friday morning, when more of the region has a chance to dip into the 50s.

Low temperature forecast for Friday morning. (Weather Bell)

Saturday and Sunday

The weekend should bring more of the same, although with atmospheric moisture levels starting to rise again we will see a bit of humidity. Even so, right now I anticipate dewpoints to be in the 50s, which means the air will be much more comfortable than our typical, sticky summertime dewpoints in the 70s. Look for highs of around 90 degrees this weekend, with lows in the 60s. Rain chances remain near zero.

Next week

We’re probably headed back toward highs of around 90, with nights in the low 70s, by next week. While the air becomes more humid, at this point it doesn’t look to be oppressively so. Now that we’re entering fall we can probably expect a front every week or two, but there’s nothing concrete on the horizon after this week’s cooler air. The real sore spot in the forecast is the lack of rain, and right now I don’t have anything hopeful to say about that, I’m afraid.

Hurricane Ian is going to be a disastrous storm for Florida. (NOAA)

Tropics

Ian has strengthened to become a major hurricane overnight, and will emerge from the western edge of Cuba this morning into the warm southeastern Gulf of Mexico, where it will find low shear and conditions that support further strengthening. This will be a historic storm for Florida, with the potential for devastating storm surge in the Tampa area, as well as points south. Wind damage will also be extreme for some locations. And in a final gut punch, the storm will slow down with weaker steering currents as it nears Florida. Houston residents who remember Harvey know what this means, very heavy rainfall. I expect parts of the Florida peninsula to receive 20 inches or more of rainfall during the next three to four days.

Fall’s first real cold front will push into Houston today, and it will stay around for awhile

My friends it has been a long—so very long —summer. We have seen record warmth in June and July, and plenty of high temperatures in the upper 90s during the last week. A total of 131 days have come and gone since Houston’s high temperature first hit 95 degrees this year, on May 18. Fortunately, I’m pretty confident that today is the last day of summer 2022.

Oh, we’re still going to see some 90-degree days. There will still be some humidity, of course. But our first real front pushes in today, bringing with it a nice surge of drier air tonight. By Tuesday morning it’s going to feel quite a bit different outside. No, the days won’t be chilly, but the nights will feel like fall. And the dry air is going to feel pretty amazing. Additionally, unlike a lot of early fall fronts, this one will have sticking power. The dry air should last into the weekend. So enjoy what’s coming, because you earned it.

Meanwhile, there’s likely to be a major hurricane coming to Florida this week. We’ll discuss that below as well.

Monday

There’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that today is going to be hot again. Expect highs to generally reach the low-90s across the region, with sunny skies. Light winds will turn to come from the northeast later today as the front pushes into the area. We don’t expect much (if any) precipitation with this front, and the bulk of the dry air will lag its passage, moving in tonight. Low temperatures tonight should drop into the mid-60s in Houston, with cooler conditions inland.

A dewpoint analysis on Monday morning shows a cold front on Houston’s doorstep. (Weather Bell)

Tuesday

You’ll be able to feel the drier air when you step outside on Tuesday morning. The lower humidity, combined with sunny skies, should allow highs to push into the upper 80s to 90 degrees, but temperatures will start falling fairly quickly after the sun goes down. Look for overnight lows in the mid-60s again in Houston, with cooler weather further inland.

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday

If anything, the flow of drier air should become more pronounced during the second half of the week as Hurricane Ian moves into the eastern Gulf of Mexico. This should allow for warm, sunny days in the upper 80s and lows in the 50s (inland) and lower 60s for Houston. Mornings and evenings will be spectacular, y’all.

Friday morning could be the coolest of the week for Houston. (Weather Bell)

Saturday, Sunday, and beyond

By Saturday or Sunday, the onshore flow will probably start to reestablish itself. But at this point I still think we’re going to see sunny days in the upper 80s with at least somewhat drier air. Nighttime temperatures will start to warm, but should remain in the 60s. Highs next week probably climb back to around 90 degrees. I know we could really use some rainfall, but there appears to be precious little of that in the cards for the next 10 days or so.

Hurricane Ian

Ian continues to organize this morning, and has become a hurricane. This is the Atlantic season’s fourth hurricane and confidence is high that it will cross Cuba tomorrow and move into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico. By Wednesday it should be approaching the Tampa area on the West coast of Florida, where it could bring historic wind and storm surge damage. However after Wednesday there is considerable uncertainty about whether Ian will plow into Tampa Bay, move more or less due north up the West coast of Florida, or remain 50 or 100 miles offshore while turning north for the Big Bend region of Florida.

Monday morning track forecast for Hurricane Ian. (NOAA)

I’ve been tracking the potential impacts on NASA’s Artemis I mission closely. The large Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft remain on the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center, on the east coast of the state. At least minor impacts are likely, and Ian’s effects could become more direct. As of this morning, the probability of tropical storm force winds at the space center are 60 percent, with an 8 percent chance of hurricane-force winds. They could arrive as early as Wednesday. NASA officials are meeting at 11am CT today to decide whether to roll the Artemis I mission back inside the Vehicle Assembly Building to protect the vehicle.