So, is winter over now for Houston?

It was only about six weeks ago that some readers asked whether winter was over. This question came after a week of very spring-like weather in early January. Our advice at the time: “decidedly not.” Now that we are a little deeper into February, with March just around the corner, it is fair to revisit the question. And this time, our answer is a cautious “yes.”

We’ll loosely define winter as the period when there is a 30 percent chance, or less chance, of a freeze for the remainder of the season. For some locations in Houston, we’ve already passed that. For others, we’re quickly coming upon it. Based on data from NOAA, here is the date after which, historically, there is a 30 percent chance, or less, of a freeze occurring:

  • Galveston Island: February 2
  • Houston Hobby Airport: February 24
  • Sugar Land: Feb. 28
  • Sealy: March 1
  • Houston Bush IAH: March 13

Looking through the first week of March, it appears there will be several nights in the 40s. But right now there is scant evidence of another widespread freeze in the Houston metro area. So if you live south of Interstate 10, I’d feel very confident in planting for the spring. I’d even feel moderately confident doing so north of the freeway, although I might cross a few fingers and toes.

There is quite the difference in temperatures across Texas on Thursday morning. (Weather Bell)

Thursday

It’s gray and very warm across much of the region this morning, with low temperatures generally in the mid-60s. A weak front is pushing into Houston, and will likely stall near Interstate 10. Therefore, inland areas may see highs in the 60s, while closer to the coast you’re in the 70s today, with plenty of humidity. There will be some scattered rain chances, but anything that falls will be light. Lows tonight will drop into the 60s for areas ahead of the front, while some inland locations may see the 50s.

Friday

A secondary push of drier and cooler air will follow on Friday, and this may reach a little further into the Houston area. Temperatures are a total crapshoot therefore. As a best guess, if you live inland of Interstate 69, you may be in the 60s, but closer to the coast we’re probably looking at 70s and plenty of humidity. Very scattered, very light rain showers will be possible again.

Saturday and Sunday

The story of the weekend will be continued mostly cloudy skies and highs in the 70s pretty much area wide as the fronts wash out. Saturday night will be especially warm, only dropping into the upper 60s. The possibility of some scattered showers will remain, and on Sunday evening we may need to watch out for a few stray thunderstorms. Humidity will be in evidence throughout the weekend as well as the possibility of morning fog.

Rain accumulations through the weekend will be less than impressive for most. (Weather Bell)

Next week

After another warm day Monday, a front should arrive on Monday night and this one should push all the way into the Gulf of Mexico. We still have some questions about how long the cooler, drier air will stick around, but I think it’s safe to say that most of next week should be back into nights in the 50s, or possibly 40s, which is more typical for this time of year.

Goodbye sunshine (and winter), and hello clouds

Houston enjoyed a block of four solidly sunny, splendid days from Saturday through Tuesday in the wake of last week’s Arctic freeze. But now the sunshine party is over, with clouds and humidity taking its place. This is likely to remain the case for the next week or so. In the image below, an ensemble forecast for cloud cover, white denotes clouds and darker colors sunshine.

This ensemble forecast for Houston shows a near total lack of sunshine until next Tuesday, or later. (Weather Bell)

Wednesday

Lows this morning are starting out at about 60 degrees—a remarkable contrast to just eight days ago when the low was 13 degrees. Welcome to Houston weather.

Winds are now blowing from the south or southwest, and this will bring in additional moisture and humidity throughout the day. However, any rain showers will be very light, and very scattered. For the most part it will just be mostly cloudy skies, with temperatures warming into the upper 70s to 80 degrees. Lows tonight will again only drop to around 60 for much of the area, and the development of sea fog is very likely along the coast.

Thursday

A weak (and dying) cold front will sag into Houston after midnight, likely pushing to around the Interstate 10 corridor. This will bring better rain chances, but I still expect anything that falls to be light in nature, with accumulations of a tenth of an inch, or two.  This will lead to highs on Thursday in the 60s, with somewhat drier air for inland areas, and lower 70s closer to the coast, with more humidity. Lows Thursday night will depend on where you lie in regard to the front, and our best guess is shown on the map below.

Lows will range from the 40s to 60s across the region on Friday morning. (Weather Bell)

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

After the potential for some partly sunny skies on Friday afternoon, the weekend period looks to see continued warm and gray for the Houston region, with highs in the 70s, lows in the 60s, and a 20 to 30 percent chance of rain each day. So this will be the very definition of mild weather for Houston. One negative is the (very) likely development of sea fog as this warmer air moves over still much cooler shelf waters.

Next week

Most of the forecast model guidance is on board with a stronger cool front arriving later on Monday, or Monday night, which should usher Houston back into weather conditions more closely resembling late winter or early spring. Confidence in the front passage is not absolute, but I think next week will probably see daily highs around 70 degrees, lows in the 50s, and more sunshine.

Last cold morning for awhile—plenty of humidity and clouds ahead

It’s a rather chilly morning across the region, with temperatures falling from the mid-30s far north of Houston to the upper 40s right along the coast. However, these will be the last chilly temperatures that Houston experiences for awhile, and today will also probably be our last mostly sunny day until next week.

Houston won’t see temperatures in the 30s and 40s again, like this morning, for at least a week. (Weather Bell)

Tuesday

Some light sea fog will burn off fairly soon after sunrise, and temperatures will rise fairly quickly through the morning. High temperatures should reach the mid- to upper-70s across Houston with mostly sunny skies. Light winds will become more pronounced out of the south tonight, and temperatures will only drop into the upper 50s for most. These winds may help to work against the development of fog on Wednesday morning.

Wednesday

Increasing moisture levels will lead to a day of at least partly, if not mostly cloudy skies. Light, very scattered showers will be possible, but for the most part I think we’ll just see gray skies. High temperatures will likely reach the mid-70s. Overnight, a weak cold front will approach Texas, but most of the high-resolution modeling suggests it will stall out along Interstate 10, or just north of there. As a result, fog may be a problem for coastal areas for the rest of the week.

Thursday and Friday

Conditions toward the end of the week will depend upon which side of the front you find yourself. Highs along the coast will likely be in the 70s, and in the 60s for areas further inland. There will be decent rain chances on both days, but accumulations overall should be slight, measured in tenths of an inch.

This dewpoint forecast for Thursday morning shows the NAM model forecast for the extent of the weak cold front. (Weather Bell)

Saturday and Sunday

As the front washes out, expect a warmer weekend for pretty much all of Houston—highs in the 70s, lows in the 60s, mostly cloudy skies and plenty of humidity. Perhaps a third of the area will see rain, again most likely in the form of light showers.

Next week

Our next chance of a front that makes it all the way to the coast comes about a week from today, and we should return to more normal conditions for this time of year by then.

Another arctic front?

There appear to be rumors spreading of another Arctic Outbreak moving into the greater Houston area during the first week of March. I’ve been asked about this multiple times on Twitter and in emails, so it must be circulating somewhere. I haven’t bothered to look. This rumor is not grounded in fact, however. While Houston may see some low temperatures in the 40s during the first week of March, I’d bet against anything lower. And I can definitively say we’re not going to see a repeat of what we saw earlier this month, with record lows and widespread snow and ice.

Thankfully, Houston’s weather turns pretty boring for awhile

It was nice to have a weekend where we didn’t have to think (or, frankly, write) much about the weather, and rather to just enjoy it. Sunshine, warmth, and mild weather all were tremendously welcome after Houston’s winter week from hell. Fortunately, there is more generally mild weather ahead and we really have no major concerns to highlight for you at this time.

Monday

A cold front pushed through Houston during the overnight hours, bringing down dewpoints and temperatures in its wake. Since this is not a particularly strong front, we still expect high temperatures today to rise to around 70 degrees, with mostly sunny skies. Winds will be moderate, out of the north at about 5 to 10 mph.

Low temperature forecast for Tuesday morning. (Weather Bell)

Tonight will be the coldest of the week, and perhaps for quite awhile across the region as we experience a warming trend going forward. Lows will drop to around 40 degrees in Houston, and perhaps a degree or two colder in outlying areas. No one should see a freeze.

Tuesday

This should be another absolutely splendid day, with highs of around 70, or a bit warmer, and a lot more sunshine. Later in the day winds will turn more southerly, and that will begin the process of bringing more humid air into the region. Lows Tuesday night will be a 10 degrees warmer than Monday night.

Wednesday

By Wednesday morning I suspect we’ll start to see widespread sea fog developing as warmer air moves over colder bays and waterways. This could be a problem for several mornings through the weekend. Highs on Wednesday should reach the middle-70s despite increasing cloud cover, and lows in Houston may not drop below 60 degrees overnight.

Thursday and Friday

The end of the work week is somewhat uncertain given that the next cold front it scheduled to push toward Houston on Thursday, but stall somewhere. It might get all the way to Interstate 10, but I think the front will stall north of there. Accordingly, rain chances will be better along and north of I-10 on Thursday and Friday. Even then, accumulations should be only on the order of a quarter inch of rain. Depending on which side of the front you fall, highs will either be in the 60s (well inland) or upper 70s (most of Houston, probably). Nights in Houston will probably stay in the 60s.

Saturday and Sunday

Right now I don’t see much of a pattern change for the weekend. I think most of the region will be pretty warm, in the 70s at least, without much of a cooldown overnight. Rain chances will be on the order of 20 to 30 percent, and for the most part I think we’ll just see a lot of clouds.

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

Is winter over?

I really don’t want to tempt fate here, but the next 10 days or so do look pretty warm. If you’re looking around the killing fields—I mean, your garden and landscaping—you may be wondering if its safe to plant. If you live south of Interstate 10, I would bet heavily against seeing another freeze this season. But for inland areas, it’s just too early to offer such a guarantee.

And besides, it may be too early to determine whether some of your plants are truly dead. I like this advice from Texas A&M Agriculture Extension agent Larry Stein, who told the Houston Chronicle, “Obviously, we’re going to have some kind of damage, but the extent of it won’t be known for a while. We tell people to learn to like ugly. Basically, leave it ugly for a while … to give the plants time to recuperate and actually see the full extent of the damage.”