Author: Eric Berger

Good morning. While our weather remains exceptionally fine for this time of year, we do have some significant air quality concerns for the metro area.

First, and most dramatically, is the Deer Park Fire incident at the Intercontinental Terminals Company, which continues to burn unrestrained this morning. The key thing to watch, in terms of weather, is “mixing heights,” which is the level that smoke from the fire will rise in response to the atmospheric profile. Put another way, the smoke will rise as long as it is warmer than the surrounding air. These mixing heights have lowered this morning to about 500 feet, in response to cooler nighttime temperatures, but they should steadily rise to about 5,000 feet or so today, keeping the smoke plume above the ground.

(National Weather Service)

A number of readers have asked how concerned we should be about this fire in terms of air quality. This is beyond my scope of expertise, but overall I would just say this incident is pretty egregious, and that we should hold our elected officials accountable for the leaders the appoint to agencies like the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which theoretically should be preventing accidents like these, monitoring them, and ensuring they don’t happen again. The chemical industry provides many good paying jobs for the Houston region, but that doesn’t mean we should accept accidents such as these as part of the bargain.

The other concern we have this morning is our ongoing battle with spring pollen season. Tree pollen remains “extremely heavy” in the city of Houston, and grass pollen is also a problem as well. Most of the tree pollen is coming from oaks. This problem will likely persist until the region gets its next moderate to heavy rainfall, which may come around Monday—or maybe not even then. Now, onto the forecast.

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It often feels like the spring and fall seasons don’t last very long in Houston, sandwiched between a long summer and a somewhat shorter winter. This week, therefore, will offer something of a rarity—a long stretch of nearly perfect spring weather in Houston. The only shame is that most kids had spring break last week, rather than during this week’s idyllic conditions.

Monday

Some sunshine broke through on Sunday, but it was still a mostly cloudy day, and we expect similar conditions today due to a more southerly flow higher in the atmosphere, which is bringing some mid- and high-level clouds in the atmosphere. After a cool start in the upper 40s this morning, highs this afternoon should reach near 70 degrees. The city of Deer Park has lifted its Shelter-in-Place restrictions this morning, but Deep Park Independent School District campuses will be closed.

Lows Monday night across Texas. (Pivotal Weather)

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday

There’s not much to say about the mid-week weather as high pressure dominates. We should generally see nighttime temperatures in the low 50s for Houston, a bit cooler inland and a bit warmer near the coast. Daytime highs will be in the low 70s. And yes, skies should be mostly sunny, with fairly dry air. Oh my.

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A cold front is moving through Houston this morning, heralded by a thin line of showers and thunderstorms sweeping down from northwest to southeast. This front should usher in a period of sunnier, drier weather for awhile, with pleasantly warm days and nights. In fact, the next week or so looks exceptional for those who like spring and fall conditions in Houston.

Low temperatures Friday morning will be quite a bit cooler. (Pivotal Weather)

Thursday

The front will push through Houston this morning, with showers ending quickly, and in its wake we’ll see drier and eventually cooler air move in behind. Highs today will be in the mid-70s, with clearing skies this afternoon and rather pleasant conditions. Lows tonight will fall down to around 50 degrees—cooler inland and warmer near the coast.

Rodeo weather

If you’re heading to the rodeo … prepare for nice weather! Pre-show temperatures will be around 70 degrees, with clear skies and low humidity this evening. Walking out of the concert, expect temperatures to have falling into the low 60s. Winds are going to pick up tonight out of the north tonight, but stronger gusts in the 20s probably won’t arrive until midnight or later.

Friday

Significantly cooler and drier air begins to arrive during the overnight hours, and as a result we can expect at least the first half of Friday to be fairly breezy, with partly to mostly sunny skies, and highs only around 60 degrees. Lows Friday night will fall into the upper 40s for most of Houston.

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Temperatures have run 10 to 15 degrees above normal this week for the Houston area, and we’ll experience one more warm day before we cool back down to more spring-like weather for awhile. The good news is that, after a long string of cloudy weather, we’ll also see a nice stretch of sunshine.

The regional Texas Tech-WRF model shows a broken line of showers approaching Houston at 2pm CT Wednesday. (TTU.edu)

Wednesday

Houston may see some effects from a powerful upper-level low pressure system that is barreling across the plains states today. Fortunately for us, we’re on the southern periphery of this system, which means that we’re likely to see only a broken line of showers and perhaps some thunderstorms move through the area, likely between about noon and 3pm this afternoon. Any storms should not last long as the system moves from west to east. We can’t rule out some briefly strong winds or hail, which will be slightly more likely for areas north of Houston than to the south of the city. Highs today should be in the mid-70s.

Rodeo weather

Rain chances should end by the early evening, meaning that our weather should be dry heading into the show. There might even be some clearing skies for a bit, with temperatures in the 70s. Relative humidity will be high, with some southerly winds at about 15mph, so it will still be one of those hair days. Temperatures won’t have dropped much after the concert.

Thursday

A cold front finally drags into Houston on Thursday, likely before noon. It is possible that we’ll see some brief showers with the front, but they should end fairly quickly. Drier air will follow fairly soon, allowing for clearing skies during the afternoon hours, and mostly sunny skies. Is anyone ready to actually see a sunset?

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