After Thursday’s heavy rains near the coast, more showers may be on the way this afternoon

Good morning. As usual, weather prediction remains a challenging enterprise. Thursday’s forecast outlined two risks for the Houston metro area: heavy rainfall and severe storms. The former definitely delivered, but the severe thunderstorms underperformed due to a lack of instability. However, even the heavy rainfall was a mixed bag. If you’re reading this from Montgomery or Cypress, you’re probably asking, what heavy rain?!? But if you live in Galveston or League City or La Porte, you know what’s up. Many locations in these cities received 4 or more inches of rainfall on a very soggy day. My backyard is a swamp this morning and the dogs are loving it. So it goes on the Gulf Coast.

The southeastern quadrant of the Houston area won the rainfall ‘lottery’ on Thursday. (HCOEM)

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It’s a muggy, foggy mess out there for most of the region with dewpoints and temperatures sitting at about 70 degrees. The fog may hang around until around 9 a.m. or so before temperatures rise enough for it to begin to dissipate. Highs today, however, will only reach the low 70s with persistent clouds.

We have a couple of things to watch for today. First up is a weak front that is going to slowly sag into the region, bringing slightly drier air. This front, in turn, will increase chances for showers and thunderstorms as atmospheric moisture levels remain elevated. These chances, unfortunately, will be highest in coastal counties that received the heaviest rainfall on Thursday. Another 0.5 to 1.5 inch of rain is possible for some locations south of Interstate 10 this afternoon and early evening. Some light rain chances will linger overnight as lows drop to about 60 degrees in Houston.


This will be another day of mixed bag weather. The front is going to hang around the coast, so while inland areas will see some moderately drier air, areas south of Interstate 10 should remain somewhat humid. Highs will probably reach the low 70s, and I can’t entirely rule out some light showers along the coast. Those chances will finally end Saturday evening as a reinforcing front arrives with drier air. Lows on Saturday night should drop into the 50s.


Skies should be partly sunny for the latter half of the weekend, which seems only fitting since the day’s name is Sunday. Humidity levels will drop noticeably with the second front. We’ll see highs in the upper 60s and light northwesterly winds. Lows on Sunday night will drop to around 50 degrees in Houston, with cooler conditions for outlying areas.

Low temperature forecast for Monday morning. (Weather Bell)

Next week

Our weather for next week looks rather fine. We’re going to see plenty of sunshine for most of the week, with highs generally in the 60s and lows in the 40s and 50s. A series of fronts may actually bring the coldest air to Houston by midweek. Rain chances look low to non-existent for much of the week. They may start to rise by next weekend, along with humidity. Daytime highs may reach the mid-70s, or so, by Saturday. Have a great weekend, everyone!

The severe storm threat is fading, especially away from the coast, due to a lack of instability

Hi everyone. Just jumping in with a quick afternoon update on the forecast for severe weather in the Houston area. The bottom line is that the window for severe thunderstorms away from the immediate coast is closing quickly this afternoon.

What has happened is that rainfall near the coast and inland this morning has sapped the atmosphere of some of the instability needed to drive severe weather. (Such instability is necessary to promote the kinds of rising air that fuel strong thunderstorms). As a result the atmospheric environment is not really capable of supporting the kinds of supercells that produce tornadoes and other severe activity. We could still see a few isolated tornadoes this afternoon, but the threat is fading.

Severe thunderstorm threat shifts coastward. (NOAA)

In terms of precipitation, we’ve seen the heaviest rainfall so far along the coast today, near a warm front at the surface. A couple of inches have fallen and we’re likely to see additional accumulations over the next few hours with sporadic pulses of heavier rainfall. It is these coastal regions from Matagorda Bay to Galveston Bay and up toward Port Arthur that the greatest potential for strong thunderstorms lies. As this system continues to propagate to the east, the threat of heavy rainfall and storm activity, even along the coast, will diminish late this afternoon and evening.

Thunderstorms likely today, with the potential for severe weather and heavy rainfall

Good morning. As we’ve been discussing this week, there is the likelihood of storms today, with the threat of severe weather during the daytime hours. There are two potential threats that I want to highlight before jumping in to the daily forecast.

Heavy Rainfall

We are already seeing light rainfall this morning across the southern portion of the region, and these showers are likely to intensify during the mid-morning hours. Much of the area is likely to pick up 1 to 3 inches of rainfall, but there is a risk of higher totals beneath the stronger storms. It is likely that areas along, and to the south and east of Highway 59/Interstate 69, will be most at risk for these totals.

To account for potential flooding we are instituting a Stage 1 flood alert, which means there will be a risk of nuisance street flooding later this morning and into the afternoon hours. The worst of the rains should shift eastward during the mid- the late-afternoon hours, and take the threat of flooding with it. Note that the Houston area’s primary radar is down for maintenance. Matt discussed some workarounds in yesterday’s update.

Severe storms

The other threat today will come from an unstable air mass that could produce strong storms. The risk of severe thunderstorms will come a little bit later, beginning during the late morning hours and persisting into late afternoon. It’s a tricky forecast because some of the morning rainfall could sap the atmosphere of energy to produce severe weather. In any case there is decent chance for damaging winds, a few tornadoes, and possibly even some hail to develop in the Houston metro area today shortly before noon, and persisting throughout the afternoon.

NOAA Severe Weather Outlook for Thursday. (NOAA)


As outlined above, today will be something of a mess weatherwise. For parts of Houston I think effects will be minimal, but please do be weather aware today due to the potential for severe weather. In terms of temperatures, expect highs of around 70 degrees, with rising humidity. Winds, generally from the south, could gust up to 30 or 35 mph. The potential for rainfall and storms should really drop off by around sunset, and tonight should be fairly quiet with lows in the mid-60s.


A front will move into Houston from the northwest on Friday morning before stalling near or just offshore. Skies will be mostly cloudy, with highs in the low 70s. Some lingering showers and thunderstorms may redevelop near the coast during the daytime, due to the proximity of the front. Lows on Friday night will drop into the upper 50s for inland areas, while remaining a bit warmer closer to the coast.

NOAA rain accumulation forecast for now through Friday night. (Weather Bell)


This will be another partly to mostly cloudy day, with highs of around 70 degrees. Some slight rain chances will linger near the coast. Sometime later on Saturday a reinforcing, drier air mass should move into Houston, ending any rain chances and bringing some cooler air. This will drop lows on Saturday night into the 50s for all but the the immediate coast.


This should be a partly sunny day, with drier air, and highs in the mid-60s. Lows on Sunday night will drop into the 40s for inland areas, while staying in the 50s close to the coast.

Next week

Most of next week will bring partly to mostly sunny days, with highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s and 50s. Rain chances look minimal. This will be fairly typical weather for December. We likely will see a bit of a warming trend toward the weekend, with highs perhaps in the low 70s. We’ll see.


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Winter outlook for Houston area: Near normal temperatures, more rainfall, and a lot of uncertainty

On a chilly morning like this, it is not difficult to imagine that winter will begin soon. But could spend this entire post discussing when winter begins. Is it Dec. 1? Is it the winter solstice, Dec. 21 this year? Is it the region’s first freeze? For the sake of simplicity, since this is a weather website, we’re going to use “meteorological winter,” which encompasses the months of December, January, and February. That works well for Houston because that is, invariably, when the region’s coldest weather visits us.

The big driver for our weather this winter will be a robust El Niño in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. This warming of the equatorial Pacific Ocean will almost certainly persist throughout winter. When El Niño is present during the winter months, it generally has a pronounced effect on the Pacific jet stream. Instead of being variable in its track, often entering North America near the state of Washington and southern British Columbia, it more consistently tracks into California and Mexico’s Baja peninsula. This brings a more southerly storm track, including over Texas.

This should make for a fairly straightforward forecast for Texas, including the Houston area, during the winter time months. There is, however, one risk that I’ll discuss below. But first, the outlook. According to NOAA (and historical trends during El Niño), we can expect near-normal temperatures this winter in Texas.

Winter outlook for temperatures. (NOAA)

Additionally, given the more southerly storm track, we can expect more precipitation this winter. Note I said precipitation, as during the winter months we can see rain as well as the potential for sleet, snow, and even freezing rain. In any case, since the atmosphere overhead is likely to be more disturbed, this should make for a fairly wet winter. That should help take care of our lingering drought, especially along the Sabine River area.

Winter outlook for precipitation. (NOAA)

So that’s what we can expect during a typical El Niño winter. But there is a wild card at play, and that is the lingering effect of very warm temperatures this year (driven largely, but not exclusively, by climate change). As long-time readers will know, the interaction between land and sea temperatures is a crucial part of weather forecasting, and the sea surface temperatures are out of whack right now.

A non-nominal El Niño

Here’s what I mean by that. The map below shows the sea surface temperature anomaly this fall. Clearly we can see the warmth in the equatorial Pacific Ocean due to El Niño. But much of the northern Pacific and Atlantic Oceans are also very warm, which is not normal leading into an El Niño winter.

Sea surface temperature anomaly map for fall, 2023. (NOAA)

Now let’s compare that to what sea surface temperature anomalies were like during the last four strong El Niño events, 1982-83, 1997-98, 2009-10, 2015-16, during the period of November to March. This is what sea surface temperatures have looked like during the last four winters, so it is basically what we should expect to happen this winter if all else were equal.

Sea surface temperature anomaly during the last four strong El Niño winters. (NOAA)

But all else is not equal. I realize we’re doing a bit of comparing apples to oranges here, but the basic takeaway should be clear: Northern Hemisphere sea surface temperatures heading into this winter look almost nothing like they would during a typical El Niño winter—they’re much warmer. Therefore I would rate this winter forecast as low-confidence, with a high amount of risk.

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