Standard summer fare this weekend for Houston before a slim cooldown next week

Not a whole lot to cover in this morning’s post, which is good news for most of us. But there are a couple things we’ll dig in on, mainly heat index values this weekend and rain chances with the cold front next week.

Today through Sunday

All of the next few days look fairly similar in nature, with sunshine, some clouds, and at least a smattering of afternoon downpours across the region. Exactly how numerous those are will likely vary from day to day, with today seeing the best odds of a downpour (still probably no worse than about 30 percent coverage) and tomorrow or Sunday probably seeing the lowest odds. Areas along and south of I-10 probably have the highest odds of seeing a shower play out, while areas north of Houston likely have the lowest odds.

The other weather issue you’ll contend with this weekend is heat. Look for highs in the mid to upper-90s today through Sunday with nighttime lows in the 70s to around 80 degrees.

Sunday afternoon’s peak heat index values could approach or exceed 110° for a time in spots. (Weather Bell)

It will feel more like 104° to 108° each afternoon when you factor in the humidity, with some places possibly even sneaking up close to 110° at times. It’s a good idea to take it easy outdoors this weekend and drink lots of water.


Consider Monday our transition day, albeit late. We will start off like the weekend, with ample heat and humidity. Look for 70s to near 80° in the morning again and daytime highs in the mid to upper-90s as well. The front will arrive sometime Monday night or early Tuesday it appears. As Eric has noted, August fronts don’t usually arrive with a ton of fanfare in the temperature department, so you probably won’t realize when it gets here. But, storms are possible by Monday evening.

Tuesday through Thursday

With the front overhead or just offshore, it will serve as a focal point, in concert with the sea breeze each day for showers and thunderstorms. Because we’ll have more clouds and higher rain chances, we can expect cooler temperatures. Highs will likely be in the upper-80s to low-90s with lows in the 70s. You may walk outside one morning and comment, “Hey, this isn’t all that bad.” But short of that, this looks like it will remain a fairly warm and humid period.

How much rain should we expect with all this next week? I think it depends on exactly how far offshore the front gets. Today that means probably an inch or two for some areas, a bit less in others.

The current rain forecast for next week calls for under an inch north and west of Houston to a bit over an inch in spots south and east. Higher amounts will be possible in some areas, mainly south and east. (Weather Bell)

Some higher amounts will be possible in isolated areas, but honestly this doesn’t look like too menacing a period, and it will probably just be mostly a nuisance couple of days for us. Rain chances should peak Tuesday and Wednesday and probably begin to tail off a little by Thursday. There is still some uncertainty on these details, so you’ll want to check back with us on Monday to see what has changed over the weekend.


All remains quiet right now and probably for at least the next 5 to 7 days. There are some hints that activity may begin to pick up again the week of August 9th. But as of now, there is nothing specific we can hone in on anywhere in the Atlantic basin, so that’s purely speculation, albeit speculation rooted in meteorology. We shall see. But nothing to worry about for now at least!

Eye on the Tropics: July will finish on a quiet note in the Atlantic

The last time we had a tropics post was back on July 13th, and since then zero storms have formed. By July 30, 2020 Isaias had formed. We’re still stuck on Elsa this year, and I hope no one is complaining. It would seem that the next week or two, broadly, will continue on this quiet trajectory. Today, we will look into perhaps why things have been so different this month compared to a year ago.

Tropical outlook in a sentence

While one can never rule out a rogue “homegrown” system this time of year from a disturbance over the Gulf or off the Southeast coast, there is no sign of any organized activity in the Atlantic over at least the next 7 to 10 days.

2021 vs. 2020

So the obvious question here is “what gives?” Why has 2021 behaved so differently from last season? Well, for one 2020 was not “the norm.” At all.

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season

We had 30 named storms last year. The defeatist in me really did expect this season to also be very busy by now, even if it lagged 2020 by a bit. That has not yet happened thankfully, and ultimately I think it mostly comes down to a law of averages in some sense. Of course, that doesn’t explain things scientifically. Let’s look at a couple things.

First, sea surface temperature. How warm is the Atlantic Basin right now? Well, if we look at a snapshot of recent water temperature anomalies, you’ll be able to see that we’re still a bit above normal in most of the Atlantic.

Water temperatures in the Atlantic Basin are running a little warmer than normal, especially in the Gulf and at higher latitudes. (Weather Bell)

Now, granted, the water temps off the Southeast coast and in the eastern Caribbean and central Atlantic aren’t impressive. And indeed, this is notable, particularly when you look at how late July compares in 2021 versus last year. The map below shows water temperatures for the week of July 18th through July 24, 2021 minus the same week in 2020.

Water temperatures are notably cooler in the tropical latitudes of the entire Atlantic basin in 2021 versus a year ago for the week of July 18-24. They are warmer in the subtropics and at higher latitudes. (NOAA)

In some cases, we’re running 1 to 2 degrees cooler than a year ago, at least for late July. So that may be one reason why this year has lacked some of last year’s firepower to date.

Let’s go into the meteorological weeds a bit. If we look at a metric called “velocity potential,” or “VP,” we can see a very interesting year over year difference in the Atlantic basin. Without getting too deep into things, think of negative velocity potential values as being favorable for tropical development and positive ones as being unfavorable. This is especially true if those values are over the eastern half of the Atlantic basin. Negative VP will promote more rising air & thunderstorm activity in the background, while positive VP will promote more sinking air and fewer robust tropical waves. It’s much more complex than this, but at a very high level, that explains some of the basics.

In July of 2020, a favorable background environment dominated the eastern half of the Atlantic basin, allowing waves to frequently form and track across the basin. In 2021, things have been much less favorable for that to occur. (NOAA)

In a nutshell, the deep purples on the map above indicated a lot of smoke on the water in 2020, which ultimately meant a number of tropical systems. Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hannah, Isaias, and a bonus tropical depression all formed in July of 2020. This July is likely to finish with just one storm, Elsa. Looking at the map labeled 2021 above, you can see the reds and oranges in western two-thirds of the Atlantic basin, Caribbean, and Gulf, along with much less blue and purple over Africa and the eastern basin. Thus, the background state this July has been less favorable than it was a year ago and subsequently, it’s been a fairly quiet month.

The obvious question is whether that will change. In general, based on most modeling I’ve seen, this is expected to change a bit in August to a pattern not as robust as 2020 but at least something more like it perhaps. So in addition to climatology favoring our typical ramp in tropical activity in August and September, we may get a subtle addition from the overall background state too. My gut feeling is that August will start quiet, but as the month wears on, we will have systems to watch closely, as we typically would in any hurricane season. I don’t think it will be quite at the frenetic levels of 2020 or even 2017, but to be sure, it won’t stay this quiet forever. My advice? Enjoy what we have left of the quieter conditions, and make sure you’ve got your plans and kits together for the August and September gauntlet.

Summertime heat kicks up a notch this weekend

While it hasn’t exactly been chilly this summer, at least July has been running a couple degrees below average for Houston. We’re now set to, in the words of Emeril Lagasse, “kick it up a notch” this weekend. Let’s rock and roll.

We’re gonna add some cayenne pepper to the thermometer to spice things up a bit this weekend


High pressure is going to begin to exert its will on southeast Texas today. The amount of moisture in the atmosphere is going to drop precipitously, allowing for a reduction in rain chances this afternoon. The faucet isn’t going to shut off completely, but it’s likely going to scale back to a slow drip. Call it maybe 20 percent coverage of rain this afternoon. And that may even be generous.

More importantly, the heat is going to ramp up. We topped out at 93° at both Bush & Hobby Airports yesterday. Look for about 95-96° today officially, with a few places hotter and coastal areas a little less hot but quite humid.

Heat index values this afternoon at 1 PM are expected to be 105-110° in most spots. Please take it easy the next few afternoons as this type of heat will remain with us. (Weather Bell)

With the humidity, it’s likely to feel like 105 to 110° at times, which is right about when Heat Advisories should be issued by the National Weather Service. So, don’t be shocked to see at least a couple of those in the days ahead. It may turn a bit hazy as the day goes on and a cloud of Saharan dust arrives from the Gulf, but that will be more noticeable tomorrow I think. High summer’s here folks.


This weekend should feature similar weather on both Saturday and Sunday. I’d expect highs to be 96 to 98° officially, with a few places possibly coming in near 100° and coastal locales in the lower 90s. Lows will likely be in the 70s to low 80s. Heat index values each afternoon will again likely exceed 105° in many spots. Rain chances are about as close to zero as it gets for this time of year.

Saharan dust (in purple/pink above) will settle over Texas for much of the weekend, probably peaking on Saturday afternoon as shown above. (NASA via Weather Bell)

You will notice a good bit of Saharan dust in the air this weekend from that dust cloud overhead. I think Saturday may look more acrid than Sunday. Either way, those of you with respiratory sensitivity to dust events should be ready for some discomfort this weekend. Sunrises and sunsets may be a bit more alluring than usual at least.

Next week

Yesterday, Eric wondered if I might be able to provide some clarity on next week’s rain chances. I can’t tell you too much new, but based on what I see in the weather models, I suspect we’ll see another hot, mostly dry day Monday, followed by a slightly less hot, slightly less dry Tuesday. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, the center of the ridge shifts back into Colorado, which should be enough to open the Gulf back up for daytime, sea breeze-driven thunderstorms.

In the upper atmosphere, high pressure is expected to drift southeast from Colorado/Nebraska into Oklahoma between next Wednesday and Sunday. That should mean a slight drop in rain chances (not zero) toward next weekend, with slightly hotter temperatures again. (Weather Bell)

By later Thursday and into next weekend, it appears that the ridge will actually slide back southeast again toward Texas, which means we might recycle hotter, drier weather for several days late next week and into the weekend. I don’t think it will be quite like this weekend, but it may not be too far off.


The National Hurricane Center is highlighting a disturbance that is emerging off the Southeast coast today. It has a low chance of possibly developing over the weekend, but at this time it is not expected to turn west into the Gulf.

Rain mostly offshore this morning, but a couple more days of storms around Houston

We’ve had quite a 12 hours of storms across the region, particularly from just north of I-10 south to the coast, with some impressive lightning and heavy rainfall. The highest 24 hour total I can find on the Harris County Food Control website is just a hair over 3 inches of rain near Dickinson. Radar estimated rainfall from the last 24 hours is shown here.

Rainfall estimates on radar since yesterday show that areas south and east of Houston hit the jackpot. (NOAA)

This morning’s radar snapshot below shows the bulk of the rainfall hugging the immediate coast, with the heaviest mostly offshore at this time.

The heaviest rain is mostly offshore now, with the exception of the Matagorda Bay area, where heavy rain was between Freeport and Palacios just after 6 AM (NOAA)

So, what’s next?


Often, when we see this sort of cluster of rain offshore, it helps to cut off moisture inflow from the Gulf of Mexico. In other words, significant moisture is involved with the offshore rain, and it could help reduce rain chances on land a bit, especially the first half of today. That doesn’t mean it will be totally dry, but showers should be very isolated this morning for the most part.

As the day wears on and daytime heating takes over and presumably we see offshore rains weaken a bit, look for a few more storms over Houston and other inland locations. But today’s rain and storms will probably be more hit and miss than widespread, and odds may favor you avoiding rain. We’ll see how that goes. As someone flying to Houston in just a bit, I am okay with this.

Other than rain chances, expect clouds and sun. Highs will probably approach 90 degrees.

Wednesday and Thursday

Look for afternoon showers and thunderstorms, driven mostly by daytime heating and the sea breeze for the middle of the week. Not everyone will see storms, but those that do could easily see an inch or two of rain between both days. The overall pattern will stay pretty unsettled on both days, but it’s tough to get too cute with details today. We will know more tomorrow morning. Highs should be in the upper-80s with lows in the 70s.

Friday and weekend

The storm system in the upper atmosphere that will help the midweek period be so unsettled will continue working back to the west Friday, into West Texas. By Sunday, it ends up in Arizona (good news for the drought plagued West), so things should begin to really settle down around here this weekend. With more sun, that means more heat, and high temperatures should go from the low to mid-90s to mid to upper-90s as the weekend progresses. Rain chances are never zero in summer here, but they look to be quite low. We’re coming up on our hottest time of the year, so this isn’t too surprising. But still, be ready.

In addition to all that, it’s likely we’ll be seeing another blast of Saharan dust this weekend.

Saharan dust (purple) is going to blast ashore in Texas this weekend, coinciding with high heat. (NASA via Weather Bell)

It’s going to look, feel, and taste like high summer around Southeast Texas.

There are signs this very hot, drier weather will continue well into next week. If you’ve managed to keep the sprinklers off most of this summer, that may change next week.

Due to travel and work for both Eric and myself, we’ll be foregoing our tropical post today, but there’s honestly not much to discuss right now. The tropics remain quiet, and that should continue for at least another week or so. Things may change heading into August, as they often do, but for now we have nothing in particular to discuss. We will let you know when that changes.