Threat of severe weather, possibly including tornadoes, increases for Tuesday’s front

Hi all. We’re jumping in here with a quick update on the storm system associated with a cold front that will move through Houston on Tuesday afternoon. Put simply, we are more concerned about the potential for tornadoes to develop ahead of, and along with a line of showers and thunderstorms at that time.

This morning, if you recall, we said we would assess whether a Stage 1 flood alert is warranted for Tuesday’s storms. After a discussion, Matt and I don’t think that is necessary. Most of the region will likely see 1 to 3 inches of rainfall, which is manageable for area roadways, even if it comes down in some heavy bursts. Some areas may see higher totals, and low-lying areas may briefly flood. But these storms should sweep through the area during the afternoon and then be gone. Showers and thunderstorms will be possible ahead of the main line of storms. However, we expect the main event to come with the line itself, which should reach west (Katy) and northwest areas (Tomball) around 2 to 4 pm, downtown an hour later, and push off the coast by around sunset.

Tornado outlook for Tuesday. (NOAA)

Our post this morning also mentioned strong wind gusts, particularly along and south of Interstate 10. This forecast remains the same. Areas such as Brazoria and Galveston counties may see gusts up to 50 mph. What has changed is the tornado threat. High resolutions models indicate conditions may become favorable for rotation, which increases the likelihood that tornadoes may form. This threat is reflected in an update from the NOAA Storm Prediction Center this afternoon, which highlights an area of greatest risk south of Houston (yellow area in the map above). I know the mention of “tornadoes” freaks some people out, but it is important to remember that twisters in our region are usually short-lived, and have fairly narrow tracks. Your odds of being directly impacted are rather low, even during an event such as we will see tomorrow.

The worst of this should be over for most of the metro area by the evening rush hour on Tuesday, but that will be something to monitor. The bottom line is this: Tomorrow is a day to be weather aware in the Houston community, especially from around noon to sunset. After that time skies will be clearing, and sharply colder air moving in from the north. Then we’ll get a few days of very solid winter-like weather.

Our next update will be posted by 7 am CT on Tuesday.

After a calm Monday, we expect some fairly wild weather on Tuesday ahead of the next front

There is no way to spin Saturday’s lousy weather in Houston, which was just a dreary day. But the second half of the weekend made up for it with some spectacularly sunny weather. If you caught sunset on Sunday night and did not go inside right away, then you were able to enjoy an additional celestial treat. The setting Sun was followed by a lovely, very thin crescent Moon on Sunday evening. A little higher in the sky, there was the bright light of Venus. Just to the right of Venus there was a considerably fainter “star.” This was, in reality, Saturn.

Looking ahead to this week, our immediate concern is the potential for severe weather on Tuesday, particularly near the coast, with the passage of the next cold front. After that we’ll see sunny skies and sharply colder nights through the rest of the work week, with a warm-up by the weekend.

Monday

Today should be pretty nice, with mostly sunny skies and high temperatures near 60 degrees. Winds will be light, out of the northeast, at 5 to 10 mph. However, later today and tonight, winds will start to shift to come from the east, and turn more gusty. This increased atmospheric moisture will support the development of clouds tonight, and should hold overnight lows at about 50 degrees.

Tuesday

An upper-level disturbance will approach our region on Tuesday and really stir up the atmosphere. As this low pressure system nears to Houston region it may be intensifying, leading to a line of strong showers and thunderstorms as it sweeps through the region during the afternoon hours.

Severe weather outlook for Tuesday and Tuesday night. (NOAA)

Starting out during the morning hours, we’ll see scattered showers and thunderstorms. Winds will shift from the east, to south, to finally come from the west as the front approaches and then passes through the Houston area. I think the line of storms will probably reach areas such as Katy between about 1 to 3 pm, the downtown area about 2 to 4 pm, and push off the coast by 4 to 6 pm. These storms are going to bring three things: Strong winds, especially near the coast, where gusts will reach 40 to even 50 mph; briefly intense, heavy rainfall; and the potential for some isolated hail and perhaps a tornado or two. As the low pressure system will likely be intensifying as it moves into Houston, the strongest and most severe weather appears likely to develop south of Interstate 10, in areas such as Brazoria and Galveston counties.

We are closely monitoring the potential for street flooding, as these storms will likely produce widespread accumulations of 1 to 3 inches of rainfall, with higher isolated totals. We are not quite ready to issue a Stage 1 flood alert, but it’s something we may do later this afternoon as we see more data. The bottom line is that conditions in Houston on Tuesday afternoon may briefly turn fairly nasty. Winds become northerly on Tuesday after the front’s passage, dropping lows to around 40 degrees in Houston.

Wednesday and Thursday

These will be cold winter days (for Houston). Look for mostly sunny skies, breezy northerly winds, and highs in the mid-50s. Both nights will drop into the upper 30s in Houston, with colder conditions further inland. We cannot entirely rule out a freeze for some far inland areas.

The low-temperature forecast for Thursday night looks chilly. (Weather Bell)

Friday

Highs should climb to around 60 degrees on Friday, so a bit warmer, with mostly sunny skies. Lows Friday night will only drop into the mid- to upper-40s as a more southerly flow returns.

Saturday and Sunday

The forecast for the weekend is a little bit blurry, but I do think we’ll see a healthy chance of showers, although it’s difficult to pinpoint when, or how much rain. Chances, for now, look best south of Interstate 10. Temperature wise, I think we’ll be back to highs of around 70 degrees, with lows just in the 60s. Hopefully we’ll get some more clarity on the weekend forecast in a day or two.

Next week

The broad trend supports a cooler pattern again for next week, but the details are understandably lacking. There is perhaps a 1-in-4 chance of seeing some substantially colder weather later next week, with lows near freezing, but my guess is that we’ll probably see something milder than that. I only mention this because some readers have been asking whether winter is over yet. My short answer is: “I don’t think so.”

The remainder of January is really going to feel like January in Houston

Good morning. A front pushed into Houston on Wednesday afternoon, dropping temperatures and humidity in its wake. After a mostly sunny day today, with highs near 70 degrees, it would not surprise me if we don’t see the 70s again for the rest of this month as a series of fronts keep us on the cooler side. At the same time, I also don’t expect anything too extreme, in terms of cold, with lows mostly in the 40s and no freezes on the near-term horizon.

Thursday

If you were up early this morning like me, you will have appreciated the clear skies and the waning crescent of the Moon. Skies will be mostly sunny today, with a northerly flow that may see winds gusting up to 15 or even 20 mph this afternoon. Dewpoints will drop into the 30s, which means that our air will become pretty dry this afternoon. However, we’ll start to see the development of some clouds this evening, and mostly cloudy skies should hold overnight lows to around 50 degrees in Houston, with cooler conditions further inland.

Friday

The aforementioned clouds will continue to build on Friday as a coastal low pressure system moves up the Texas coast. These clouds, combined with a northeasterly breeze gusting to 15 or 20 mph, should act to hold high temperatures in the upper 50s on Friday. Lows will drop a few degrees overnight, and we may see some scattered showers as the low approaches the greater Houston region.

NOAA rain accumulation forecast for Saturday. (Weather Bell)

Saturday

As we’ve been saying for awhile, the first half of the weekend looks wet. Not disruptively wet, in terms of flooding, but annoyingly wet in terms of on- and off-showers that perhaps drop on the order of one-half inch of rain throughout the day. The favored time for these showers will be the daylight hours, with rain chances slackening as evening comes on. Most of the area will see highs of around 60 degrees. A reinforcing cold front arrives Saturday evening, or so, to help drop overnight lows into the upper 40s.

Sunday

The second half of the weekend should be sunny and splendid, with highs of around 60 degrees. Winds may be a little gusty during the morning hours, but they should back off some during the afternoon hours. Low temperatures on Sunday night will drop into the mid-40s in Houston, with colder conditions further inland.

Low temperatures for Sunday night in Houston. (Weather Bell)

Monday and Tuesday

We’re going to see a brief warmup to start next week, with highs on both of these days perhaps in the mid-60s or so. However, in what will seem like a recurring pattern, some moderate rainfall will be possible during the daytime on Tuesday as yet another front moves through. Lows drop into the low 40s on Tuesday night, probably.

Remainder of next week

Most of the rest of next week, at least through the work week and possibly into the weekend, will see chillier weather. I’m thinking highs in the low 60s and lows in the low 40s, but of course there will be some variation. After the first two thirds of January were very warm, it looks like the last 10 days of the month will see a return to normalcy.

Scattered showers today will herald the arrival of a front, and return of more typical January weather

Houston’s Hobby Airport set a record high temperature, with a mark of 81 degrees, and many other locations across the region hit 80 or higher on Tuesday. We’ll be warm again today ahead of a front that should push into the metro Houston area shortly after noon. This will be the first of a series of fronts that keeps us on the cooler side of things for at least the next week, and probably longer.

Wednesday

Highs today will likely reach the mid- to upper-70s ahead of the front, with partly sunny skies. A broken line of showers and thunderstorms will form late this morning to the northwest of Houston, and then move through the region toward the coast during the middle of the day. While I can’t rule out some severe weather, it does not appear as though the ingredients for stronger storms will line up over Houston. These remain more likely for areas such as Cleveland, Texas, and areas to the northeast. Drier and cooler air moves in behind the front, ending rain chances this afternoon. Lows on Wednesday night will drop to around 50 in Houston, with colder conditions inland.

The better chances for severe weather will be to the east-northeast of Houston. (NOAA)

Thursday

This will be a partly to mostly sunny day with highs in the upper 60s to 70 degrees and much drier air. Winds will be out of the north at about 10 mph. Lows Thursday night should drop into the upper 40s in Houston.

Friday

Skies will be mostly cloudy on Friday, with highs of around 60 degrees. As the flow turns more southerly, we’ll see atmospheric moisture levels start to ramp up. As a low pressure system starts to work its way northward along the Texas coast, this will start to introduce a chance of showers on Friday evening or Friday night. These should be mostly light, however. Lows will fall into the low 50s.

Saturday

This will be a cloudy day with intermittent rain showers. Highs, again, will be in the low 60s. We’re not looking at anything too extreme in terms of rainfall, but pretty much every part of the metro area should see on-again and off-again showers, with accumulations of 0.25 to 1 inch of rain for the most part. I cannot rule out a few scattered thunderstorms, but I think these will stay offshore for the most part. Rain chances start to back off on Saturday evening as the low pressure system moves away and we see a drier northerly flow. Lows drop into the upper 40s on Saturday night.

NOAA rain accumulation forecast for this weekend. (Weather Bell)

Sunday

We can be reasonably confident in nice weather on Sunday, with mostly sunny skies and highs in the low 60s. Lows on Sunday night will be cooler, dropping into the low 40s in Houston, and colder still further inland.

Monday

This probably will be another partly to mostly sunny day with highs in the low 60s.

The rest of next week

We start to warm up a bit on Tuesday, with a more southerly flow. However, another front is on track to arrive Tuesday, bringing with it a decent chance of rain and keeping conditions on the cooler side for the remainder of next week. Most likely we’re looking at highs in the low 60s, and lows in the low 40s, or thereabouts for awhile.