Author: Matt Lanza

Hottest yet to come for Houston, as Texas roasts

Posted by Matt Lanza at 6:25 AM

Thursday was the hottest day yet in this heat wave that is scorching much of Texas. It was also Houston’s hottest day since June 5th. We hit 98° officially at Bush Airport (96° at Hobby).

Across Texas, it was quite a day. Here’s a rundown of the noteworthy temperatures and records set:

  • Energy demand across Texas was the strongest it has ever been, with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT establishing another record, breaking the previous one just set on Wednesday.
  • Houston‘s low of 80° tied a record warm minimum temperature for July 19th.
  • College Station hit 100° yesterday for the first time in 2018.
  • Dallas, Waco, and San Angelo set record high temperatures for July 19th of 108° on Thursday, breaking records from 1925, 1951, and 2011 respectively.
  • Incredibly, Lubbock, TX didn’t drop below 81° yesterday for the first time on record, their warmest low temperature for any date by two degrees. Records in Lubbock date to 1911.
  • Midland, El Paso, and Amarillo each hit 105° for a high yesterday, tying records for Midland and El Paso for the date and setting a new record for Amarillo, which had been 102° last set in 1936.
  • Austin hit 104° and San Antonio hit 99°, neither of which were records.
  • Across the border, Shreveport, LA hit 104° yesterday, tying a record for Thursday last set way back in 1875.

The heat hasn’t even peaked yet, certainly not for Houston, so expect more impressive numbers and records to come. Let’s run through the forecast.

Friday & weekend

All three days look similar from a pure weather standpoint: It will be sunny and hot into Sunday. Please use caution if outdoors. Yes, we’re used to hot weather, but what’s coming this weekend is the next level of heat for our area that we see maybe once or twice per summer.

Some heat safety tips. Limit your time outdoors, don’t forget to check the backseat of your car, and please don’t forget about pets. (NWS)

It cannot be emphasized enough, especially after news of yesterday’s tragic death of a 3-year old left in a day care bus in northwest Houston, but always double check your vehicle before locking it and walking away.

In terms of just how hot, I would say we hit 98-100° officially today, followed by about 99-101° Saturday, and 101-103° Sunday. While Houston has been on the periphery of the strong upper level ridge of high pressure that has caused this heat, it will advance toward us in a big way this weekend, giving us a taste of what North Texas has been experiencing. How generous.

Official NWS forecast high temperatures over the next few days have lots of 100s showing up. (NWS)

We get very little relief at night during this kind of heat, so expect low temperatures to get just below 80° in most places and not much better than that.

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SAL to visit Houston again this weekend

Posted by Matt Lanza at 6:06 AM

Our old friend SAL, the Saharan Air Layer (dust from the Sahara Desert in Africa) will be making a return visit to Texas this weekend, at least in higher quantities than we’ve seen this week. It will bring some grimy air quality by Sunday, as well as some potentially interesting sunrises and sunsets.

Model data from NASA shows thicker Saharan dust arriving in Houston on Sunday and Monday. (NASA)

You can see from the animation we’ve put together with NASA data that the brightest colors, or thickest dust arrives on Sunday afternoon, and it should be with us through about Tuesday. Dust has been with us to some extent much of this week, but it will be much more noticeable by later Sunday. So if you are an allergy sufferer (raises hand) or have respiratory ailments, worsening air quality on Sunday and Monday may cause you some discomfort. Air quality should improve after Tuesday. If interested, you can check the Texas air quality outlook here.

Today through Sunday

We’ve had a bit of a late start to thunderstorm activity over Houston the last two days, waiting until 3 PM or later in most cases. Yesterday’s storms were particularly frisky, with parts of Houston’s Inner Loop and West Houston seeing 1-2″ of rain. The Woodlands took home the trophy on Thursday with nearly 3″ of rain in spots.

I’m guessing we will see further hit or miss storms develop today through Sunday. Storm chances will generally diminish each day through the weekend compared to where they have been. Still, a few showers or storms should pop up each morning near the coast (you may have had rain in La Marque or Texas City already this morning, for example), advancing inland during the afternoon. Like yesterday, the handful of places that do see rain could see a fair bit of it in short order, so just be aware of that this weekend.

For most of the area, the majority of the weekend just looks partly to mostly sunny and hot. The last few days saw high temperatures exceed weather model guidance. We’ve hit the mid-90s, despite forecasts generally in the lower 90s. There’s a good chance we’ll do that again this weekend. We’ll call it generally low- to mid-90s for most of the area through Sunday. Overnight lows will be in the middle or upper-70s with humidity.

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A calmer Thursday for Houston

Posted by Matt Lanza at 6:07 AM

After yesterday’s wild weather, things will scale back a bit today, and we should end up calmer. All bayous and rivers are within their banks and generally lowering, including the San Jacinto River at Humble, which briefly popped into minor flood stage last night.

The West Fork of the San Jacinto River near Humble briefly went into flood last night, but it has since fallen back a bit. Other bayous and rivers are receding or safely below flood stage as well. (NWS)

Calmer weather doesn’t mean totally dry, however. Over the next several days we’ll be dealing with a few disturbances to bring us more rain chances, though at this point none look quite as significant as what we just experienced.

Today

We’ll see a return of some sunshine and heat today, as we start the day partly to mostly sunny. A few showers will be possible south and west of Galveston this morning, down through southern Brazoria and Matagorda Counties. As we heat up, I do expect at least a few more showers and storms to develop elsewhere in the region, but these will be more of the hit and miss variety, with many neighborhoods staying dry today. Expect high temperatures in the lower 90s.

Any storms that do occur today will be capable of briefly heavy rainfall and some gusty winds, as well as lightning. So just be aware of that.

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Rain ending, street flooding continues in Houston

Posted by Matt Lanza at 2:17 PM

The worst of the rain is now over as of early this afternoon in Houston. Heavier rains have migrated west toward the Sealy area, which has seen 1-3″ of rainfall over the last hour or two.

A Flash Flood Warning remains in effect there. Houston’s Flash Flood Warnings will expire soon, but with street flooding likely to continue, travel within the city through the late afternoon is discouraged. We’d advise people to just stay put through late day if possible. Road and weather conditions will improve this evening.

While weather conditions will generally improve area-wide this afternoon and evening, there will still be a few showers and storms scattered about the region. So I can’t promise the evening will be entirely dry. But it should be mostly cleared out. Still, a sub-optimal July 4th overall.

No change in thinking from earlier this morning regarding tomorrow and into the weekend, as additional showers and storms will be possible each day.

Total rainfall from this storm will top 8″ in parts of Houston, centered just west of downtown.

4-8″ of rain has fallen in much of central Houston, with 1-4″ surrounding the city, though with pockets of higher amounts south and east. (Harris County Flood Control)

On average about 4-8″ inside the Loop and down near Clear Lake. Surrounding that, about 1-4″ fell. Most bayous are in their banks, but a few have come out in spots, exacerbating flooding in those neighborhoods. You can see rain totals and inundation maps from Harris County Flood Control here.

Unless something changes, that’s it for today, and we’ll be back with more in the morning.