Texas drought continues, but Houston area still holding up fairly well

As occurs each week, the U.S. Drought Monitor updated their drought assessment yesterday. Texas continues to see pretty difficult drought conditions overall, however that’s not so much the case locally.

West and central Texas are being hard hit by drought this spring with over 15 percent of the state in D4, or “exceptional” drought. (NOAA)

While over 87 percent of the state is classified in drought conditions, only about 57 percent of the Houston area qualifies for drought at this time. Our most recent serious drought occurred in 2011. It may be somewhat comforting to know that during this week in 2011, the entire state was in drought, with much of the Houston area in D4, or “exceptional” drought. At this point, while it may be tempting to compare current conditions to 2011 across Texas, that is not quite an accurate assessment, certainly locally.

The Houston area’s drought situation is better than most of the rest of Texas, with the only severe drought assessed to be south of the city and no areas of extreme or exceptional drought at this time. (NOAA)

Precipitation over the next few weeks is not going to be absent from Texas, so we’ll see if it’s enough to start denting this drought before it gets too troublesome. But if your travels do take you to central or western Texas, just be aware that the ground there will be much drier than usual and fire risk higher than usual.


The week will close out with, you guessed it, wind. Look for yet another breezy day, with southeasterly winds of 15 to 25 mph. Any morning clouds should give way to sun, with high temperatures up into the 80s.


More wind.

Another round of breezy to gusty winds will be likely Saturday. (Pivotal Weather)

Look for another day of 15 to 25 mph winds, with higher gusts at times over the water. We will see a mix of sun and clouds with temperatures warming from the 70s into the 80s. Humidity will remain high.


Look for mostly a rinse and repeat of Saturday, with wind perhaps checking in just a notch under Saturday.

One thing I haven’t yet mentioned: Rain. We don’t expect anything meaningful or widespread this weekend, but the chance of a passing shower or some patchy drizzle or sprinkles is not zero. So although it probably won’t rain on you this weekend, don’t be entirely shocked if it does for a short time.

Next week

As we continue our transition toward summer, the cold fronts pack less and less punch in terms of temperatures. The cold front we are expecting later Monday or Tuesday morning should follow that rule as well. Expect scattered showers or a chance of storms, especially north and west of Houston on Monday with morning lows in the 70s warming to highs in the 80s. Those storms should move into the Houston area Monday evening or night, assuming they can survive the trip. There are still some questions as to how much in the way of storms we will see.

Whatever the case, clearing should commence on Tuesday with slightly cooler and less humid weather arriving early. Perhaps we’ll see lows in the 60s with highs in the lower 80s. You’ll probably notice the more comfortable weather mostly on Tuesday night into Wednesday when some outlying areas drop back into the 50s.

Low temperatures may find their way into the 50s on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning next week. (Pivotal Weather)

That will be nice, but it will be short-lived. Humidity should come surging back in late next week, restoring our typical mid-spring pattern. For those of you planning to get back out for MS 150 next weekend, it looks as if you’ll have very warm, humid weather, along with southerly winds. For day 1, it won’t be a true tailwind per se (certainly if you’re starting from Austin), but it will definitely be coming off the Gulf as it stands right now. The day 2 trek from La Grange to Kyle Field should have a pretty stout tailwind. More on this next week!

Easter weekend will be an early summer preview for Houston

Good morning. The humidity has come surging back this morning. Whereas yesterday at this time we had a relative humidity of 64% and a dewpoint in the 40s, this morning sees relative humidity at 93% and a dewpoint into the mid-60s. The dry, pleasant weather was nice for a day. We’ll now begin a somewhat unsettled period of weather through Monday, though probably without any real serious issues.

Dewpoints have risen substantially in the last 24 hours anywhere you see green on the map above. It feels a lot different today than it did yesterday. (NOAA)


Clouds this morning may actually produce some drizzle or light rain showers a little later this morning before things attempt to clear out a bit this afternoon. Inland areas, mainly north of I-10 could see an isolated downpour or thunderstorm this afternoon with daytime heating. It’s likely that many of you will not see that today, however. Look for highs in the 80s or upper 70s if clouds stubbornly hold on. Winds won’t be too terrible, but look for a 5 to 15 mph southerly breeze today.


Temperatures tonight get held up because of clouds and a warming air mass, so look for Saturday to begin with 70s in most of the area. That head start should allow us to easily push deep into the 80s to near 90 degrees tomorrow afternoon with a bit of sun after morning clouds.

This weekend will be a preview of summer as temperatures approach 90 degrees with high humidity Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s forecast highs are shown here. (Pivotal Weather)

A shower can’t be entirely ruled out but most areas will stay dry. South winds of 5 to 10 mph will provide minimal relief.

Easter Sunday

South of I-10, Sunday’s forecast is actually pretty straightforward. Look for morning clouds and some sun with temperatures in the higher 80s away from the water. Along and north of I-10, the forecast gets trickier. A cold front approaches Sunday but it struggles to get much past I-35, well west of us. But ahead of that front, showers and storms will kick off Sunday afternoon. The best chance for that will be near College Station, but the chances in and around Houston are not zero. Basically, if you have outdoor holiday plans, just be flexible and understand that, while not likely, rain will be possible for a time, especially north and west of Houston.

Outside of shower chances, we’ll see highs again well into the 80s, if not low-90s for inland spots with enough sunshine.

Monday and Tuesday

The cold front will eventually get into our part of Texas on Monday bringing a chance of showers and storms. Honestly, modeling doesn’t look too impressive in terms of storm chances in Houston, but we’ll definitely call for a slight chance. That front basically dies out once it passes us, but that will still allow for cooler temperatures and lower humidity Monday and especially Tuesday. We’ll probably see 80 or so on Monday, followed by 70s and a breeze on Tuesday, with morning lows in the 50s.

If you’re attending the Astros home opener on Monday evening, it should be turning a bit more pleasant with temperatures in the 70s pre-game and 60s during the game. I believe rain chances will dictate whether or not the roof is open, and we will know more about that on Monday itself.

Rest of next week

Humidity and warmer temperatures come flooding back in for the mid to late week period. Strong onshore winds may develop Wednesday. We’ll see a return of 80s by day, 60s or warmer by night, and shower chances. These shower chances look minor each day right now, but we’ll get a better handle on which days will carry higher rain risk by Monday or Tuesday.

Meanwhile, have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Oakpocalypse now in Houston, but pollen hopefully on the decline soon

So, last Friday I noted how Houston’s pollen season had probably been in the process of peaking, slightly later than usual. The last two days laughed in the face of that comment and produced the highest tree pollen values I can find in the City of Houston’s pollen count archives (2013-2022), with values over 10,000 Wednesday and over 12,000 yesterday. Going back to 2013, there is not a remotely comparable day in Houston in terms of tree pollen, specifically oak pollen. The next closest value I can find is 6,440 on March 21, 2019. Keep in mind that pollen counts are not conducted on weekends and holidays, so there is missing data, but the odds of all the maximum days not showing up over 9 years of data is quite low.

Thursday’s pollen count from Houston was one for the record books. (City of Houston)

So then, what is it? Why is this year so much worse than any recent year? There are two theories I have, neither of which I can definitively back up. The first is the drought over Texas. Since February 1st, we’ve had 3 days of rainfall over a quarter inch at Hobby Airport. Since 2000, we’ve averaged six of them. More on drought in a second, but in general rain does help wash some of this pollen away. The dryness, combined with the breezy conditions we’ve had, is just a brutal recipe right now. I’m also guessing that a lot of pollen from central Texas has found its way to Houston with those gusty winds too, as drought is much worse there.

My second theory is that the latest freeze in Houston since 1999 may also be playing a role here. We had a mid-March pair of freezing nights, and I’m wondering if that may have delayed the onset of the excessive pollen, meaning the oak pollen season is delayed. Normally we would be declining by now, but we may be at peak instead.

So my theory is that the dry and windy spring are making the season more extreme, and the later than usual freeze has made it peak later. I may be wrong here, and I would love to be corrected by a tree or pollen expert if so. Hopefully by this time next week, we’re discussing more manageable pollen levels.

Dry, dry, dry

Speaking of drought, the new drought monitor map came out yesterday, which shows that drought coverage in the Houston area inched up just a bit, primarily in Galveston, Chambers, and Brazoria Counties. Texas as a whole did just a bit better week over week.

Unlike much of Texas, drought hasn’t quite taken hold in the Houston area but it’s beginning to south and east of the city. (US Drought Monitor)

Rainfall over the next two weeks looks to be near average in the Houston area and below average in the rest of Texas. Drought should hold or worsen statewide.

Red flag warnings are posted for today across all of southeast Texas into southern Louisiana. A red flag warning means that there is very high fire danger due to wind and low humidity levels. Dry brush and grass certainly is not helping.

A red flag warning is posted today, meaning fire weather conditions are critical. (NOAA)

Basically, use common sense today. Outdoor burning is discouraged. Don’t park on dry grass. Don’t discard cigarette butts out the car window. And if you see any sort of grass fire, report it right away before it can cause bigger problems. As of Thursday evening there were 48 active wildfires across Texas, according to the Texas Wildfire Incident Response System.

Weekend forecast

So that was a lengthy intro to today’s post! Why? There’s not much happening outside of that. Look for a sunny Friday, Saturday, and probably Sunday too. Winds will be gusty today with highs well into the 70s. Tomorrow should see lighter winds with morning lows in the 50s and daytime highs in the lower 80s. Sunday will see a shift to onshore, southerly winds and they could be strong at times, gusting up over 25 mph. Highs will be in the low 80s after morning lows in the low 60s. Humidity will start to become noticeable by later Sunday.

Next week

That onshore flow and building humidity will lead to more clouds than sun and perhaps a shower on Monday. We should still manage the low-80s, but morning lows will struggle to get below 70 degrees. Winds will be gusty again Monday also. Tuesday and Wednesday should see a chance of showers and thunderstorms, along with continued breezy conditions and warm, humid temperatures. We may or may not get a cold front through here later Wednesday or early Thursday, as modeling has been bouncing all over the place on that. If that happens, look for cooler, drier air for the end of next week. We’ll update you with the latest on Monday.

No joke: Mainly nice spring weather continues for Houston

Good morning! We really hope you enjoyed yesterday’s weather. It was truly sublime, though if you’re a seasonal allergy sufferer like me, it was not quite as nice as it could have been. Yesterday was the highest tree pollen value I’ve seen in Houston this year, and as you’d expect it seems to be following a fairly typical pattern for spring. Below is a chart of total tree pollen in Houston from January 1 through April 30 over the last 5 years, plus 2022 so far. Keep in mind that there is no data for weekends or holidays, and there are currently multiple missing days in March unfortunately.

The peak of tree pollen this year is following a typical trajectory but seems delayed by a week or two relative to more recent years. Click to enlarge. (Data from City of Houston)

Where the pattern may be breaking down is on which date the “peak” of tree pollen occurs. I will confirm this once March’s archive is published, but if we go by what data we do have, the peak of tree pollen occurred like this in Houston:

YearPeak Date of Pollen
2022 (so far)March 31
2021March 26
2020March 6
2019March 21
2018March 14
2017March 14

Assuming yesterday was our peak day for pollen, it came rather late. Data in Houston goes back to 2013, and this year would be the latest peak since at least then. That peak date is contingent on numerous things like rain, temperatures, wind, etc. So each year will be different, obviously, but this year does indeed seem to be peaking late. Based on previous seasons, we likely have about 10 to 14 more days of really high pollen before things begin to fall off steadily. There is hope for us.


On to the weather, and today should be another good one. We will likely see some clouds at times, but for the most part today will be classified as mostly sunny. Look for highs around 80, give or take a few degrees. Winds will be mainly light, but up just a notch over yesterday.


Saturday should be a fair day for most folks, with a decent amount of sunshine around. There will likely be some showers with a passing disturbance and approaching weak front, but many or most of you may not see much of anything come from that tomorrow. I’m guessing the clouds and shower chance will be highest in the morning hours, followed by clearing for the afternoon.

Sunday should be just fine with plentiful sunshine with daytime highs in the low-80s and morning lows around 60 or so each day (a few degrees cooler outside the city). Winds will be variable but generally 5 to 15 mph.

Early next week

Monday should begin fine with a mix of clouds and sun. We should be able to make the low-80s after a mild mid-60s start to the day. You will notice a bit more of an onshore breeze Monday, with 15 mph winds, and a bit gustier at times near the coast. Additionally, it looks like we’ll see some showers and thunderstorms develop on Monday afternoon.

The Storm Prediction Center has outlooked our area, mainly north of I-10 for a chance of severe weather on Monday. (Pivotal Weather)

The SPC has published their day 4 severe outlook and included the Houston area, primarily north of I-10 as having a chance for severe thunderstorms. We will likely be dealing with some “capping” in the atmosphere, as we normally do down here in spring. This increase in temperatures with altitude normally helps limit our severe weather risk near the Gulf, as opposed to what is normally seen to our north. For now, while severe storms are possible on Monday, we are comfortable saying the highest odds may be north of the Houston metro area. We’ll obviously have an update on this Monday.

Tuesday and beyond

Any storms on Monday will occur well ahead of a cold front. That front won’t actually get here until Wednesday. So we may see lingering showers on Tuesday morning, followed by clearing and warm weather Tuesday, with low to mid-80s. Wednesday could be quite warm with slightly less humidity and sunshine. Wednesday’s high temperatures are forecast to be in the mid to upper-80s right now.

Wednesday is looking rather warm across southeast Texas! (Pivotal Weather)

For those that want more pleasant weather, it should arrive for a couple days behind Wednesday’s front. We will see lower humidity and sunshine, along with slightly cooler temperatures. More on that next week!