Entire Houston area officially in drought, as we dig for glimmers of rain chances

Yesterday’s drought monitor report was pretty much what you’d expect for the Houston area. Drought coverage doubled in size from half the region to the entire region. Severe drought quadrupled from just over 10 percent coverage to over 40 percent coverage, basically along and to the right of Highway 59.

Drought coverage has taken hold of the entire Houston area. (US Drought Monitor)

We’ve seen burn bans expand this week, and I believe we’re getting closer to seeing more water restrictions and conservation measures take hold across the area. Tomball entered that category this week, and I assume other subdivisions and communities are just about there as well.

Wildfire risk remains high to very high over much of the area today and again tomorrow. We may see some modest improvement in that next week with slightly less wind. That would help (though the breeze has certainly helped make the evenings a bit more pleasant at least!).

Wildfire risk remains high to very high today and tomorrow in the northern half of the Houston area. Hill Country is seeing “extreme” fire danger. (Texas A&M Forest Service)

So, today let’s focus on the chances we can maybe, possibly, potentially, perhaps, conceivably see some rain chances next week.

Today through Tuesday

Sunny, hot, breezy this weekend but a bit less next week, and highs in the low-100s and lows near 80 or in the low-80s. Each day. Today through Tuesday. Excessive heat warnings and/or heat advisories will be likely every day.

Yesterday was our 12th straight 100 degree day, as we hit 103° at Bush Airport. That’s Houston’s third longest streak on record. The next one to catch will be 14 straight days, set in 1980. The top streak of 24 days from 2011 will be challenging but the chances of eclipsing it surely are a good deal greater than zero. We still lag total 100 degree day records by a lot, however.

Beyond Tuesday

A lot of y’all have said our reports this week have been downright depressing. They have been! We’ve always promised honesty with you, and there’s been little sign of any real rain or “less hot” weather. So here’s the deal. I want to be optimistic about mid to late next week and some (modest) rain chances. But we’ve seen this happen more than once this year, where modeling sort of relaxes the pattern for a period and then it comes roaring back. So here’s our hint of optimism, but in reality, I would not be out buying umbrellas.

High pressure over the next 5 days is going to anchor near or over Texas. But after about next Tuesday, the high retreats into the Southwest as a pretty aggressive trough digs into the Great Lakes. This “weakens” the ridge over Texas some. By next Friday, any goodwill we have garnered is gone and it’s back to heat, but for those few days at least we might weaken things enough to at least allow for sea breeze showers each afternoon. Here’s a forecast upper level map on Thursday afternoon.

With Houston sitting right on the edge of a potential “weakness” between a ridge in the Southwest and the one east of Bermuda next Thursday, maybe that opens the door for lower-end rain chances next week. MAYBE. (Tropical Tidbits)

That’s only going to give us about a 20 to maybe 25 percent chance of afternoon showers. But that’s about 20 to 25 percent higher than right now. So I want to be realistic about the chances of any change (which is to say, it’s quite low), but I also want to try and keep us somewhat positive! We’ll see how this holds up over the weekend. Meanwhile, please stay cool and hydrated this weekend!

49 thoughts on “Entire Houston area officially in drought, as we dig for glimmers of rain chances”

  1. We can hope again! Although 2023 had many disappointments, lets think back to all the glorious surprise supershowers that came during hot but gloomy times and hope they make a comeback again!

    • I’d love to offer a ray of hope, but right now the rest of August looks pretty miserable. Typically we can expect a front in the third or fourth week of September, but there are never guarantees of that.

    • Our last 90 degree day will be in October, so yes, it will be over, but not until November. Then Houston has 4 months of great weather before the heat cycle starts over in March.

  2. Hello, I was on a flight recently and the aircraft had real time temperature and altitude readouts. I was hoping you could explain the temperature gradient I witnessed. It seems that the hot air is in a very short zone, maybe a few hundred feet up before it starts to cool. For example, ground temp was ~100F, at ~1600 ft it was around 88F, at ~5000 it was 75F and at 10k ft it was much cooler. I recall at 16k ft it was cold around 5F-10F! I know air cools at altitude, but these aren’t very high altitudes and I would have expected warmer temps given how hot ground temp is.

    • Most of the “warmth” in the atmosphere is held within the boundary layer, which varies in depth but, generally, goes up to a kilometer or so. This also depends on geographic location. Looking at upper air soundings you can see that the trace for the ambient temperature for many locations doesn’t vary greatly until about a kilometer or so up (especially this time of year), then the lapse rate kicks in and temps decrease pretty steadily with altitude until you reach the tropopause.

      Looking at local upper air soundings in the region at, or around, 15k feet (roughly 500 mb) is about where the temperature plot reaches 0 deg F. The elevated mixed layer (EML) can have some affect on this as well, bringing warmer, drier air in from Mexico/West Texas.

      If you plotted the points you collected, you get your own upper air sounding for, at least, the temperature and for the path that the aircraft is taking, versus what a radiosonde balloon would follow. .

    • Yep…the weather we experience here at the surface is usually rather shallow. There will be cases where temperatures cool slower with height (or even warm with height, especially in winter). But yeah, it does not take much to cool off. Maybe we just need to build a 2,000′ tall building with a large outdoor patio on the roof. 🙂

  3. I’ve commented before a handful of times – so appreciate y’all! Reading SCW & your new The Eyewall is like talking weather with friends over a cup of coffee. Honesty & humor with a little drop of sarcasm. Btw, The Eyewall 5👍🏻too. Look forward to tomorrow’s cup of weather! Thank you from NC.

  4. To be fair, summer weather is always depressing. I have never been a summer person, so I will wait patiently until all this awful heat and sunshine passes to some decent weather. I’m really hoping for that wet and cold weather the Farmer’s Almanac was talking about in their long-range forecast…though I understand how unreliable it may be. A girl can hope!

    • I’m with you on not liking summer in general. There’s always stuff about “winter blues” and seasonal depression pertaining to fall and winter in the news, but never the opposite. Too bad for us we happen to be in one of the worst spots in the US to feel this way. I don’t know about you, but one mostly cloudy day would seem like a serious blessing at this point.

      • I felt so depressed yesterday and, while I always question my sanity living in this area during the summer, am really wondering how much more I can tolerate without completely losing my $hit. My foundation is shifting and I can’t bring myself to care about watering. Also of note was my first ever water bill over $200.

        Cursing the weather gods and hoping the Farmer’s Almanac is right. I am sick of sunshine and yearn for the gloomy days of winter!

    • Fortunately we will have a higher chance of seeing cold, cloudy, and rainy weather this winter because of a strengthening El Nino. This isn’t a guarantee, however our chances are higher this winter than just any given winter.

  5. Unfortunately, looking really ahead, there’s not much to support this high will go anywhere before Labor Day. Maybe it’ll be a bit retrogrady on occasion, but it seems to be anchored in place pretty well.

  6. SCW you’re the best. I enjoy your honestly and factual Coverage. I was here in 2011 and There are people carrying on that it has never been so bad as this ad nauseum! The cycle of fall will return soon. We humans are a fickle lot. LOL We go oh I wish it was cooler/hotter/wetter/drier & etc and then when we get it we go… Ummm maybe not so much Lord can you turn that back a bit.

    • I NEVER wish for it to be warmer here. NEVER. I savor every moment of non-goldbond season I can get. It could be cold rain at 40 degrees and I will always take that over this because I know once the heat starts, it’s not leaving for 5-6 months.

    • There’s nothing fickle about not liking the fact that we live in a 24/7 sauna for half the year sprinkled in with occasional flood events. The climate here has always been considerably out of range to what is considered comfortable to most people and now it’s just getting worse.

    • It depends on the context for me.

      I’d never ever complain about “too much rain” during the summer. Nor would I complain if there were “too much warmth” during winter.

  7. I’ve torn down my August calendar off the wall since I’m officially done with it. September can just stay up that much longer.

    Native Houstonian here but this summer SAD is really wearing on me. It is like a bad version of “Groundhog Day”. On a positive note, I still love SCW.

  8. You’re both great at bearing bad news to us gently. I appreciate your honesty and understanding.

  9. The heat and humidity have always been extreme here but it’s gotten progressively worse over the last 23 years I’ve been here. It’s to the point of being uninhabitable. There is a lot to like about this city but the weather is just too much at this point – this heat is not good for anything or anyone.

    • The uninhabitable part isn’t hyperbole. I can’t stand this any longer and am migrating to a cooler climate in a few months. I’ve lived in Texas all of my life, but it’s just not worth it anymore when going outside is miserable for such a large part of the year. It’s a guarantee that as each insanely hot year goes by more and more people will continue to flee.

  10. Maybe we should have a vote to decide where in the US is the best place to live – weather wise – then we can all go and live there. I think it has to be somewhere in Utah.

  11. There was a story in the NYT recently about how hot weather is terrible for mental health. At least for me, I can confirm. I’ve been pretty cranky and semi-depressed for weeks now and it’s only getting worse as this weather pattern continues.

    • me too – and water bill. Between inflation and the electric and water bills, we are hemorrhaging $$$!

  12. Many of yall complain about the hear but I see Houstonians out and about even at 103 degrees. Walking, going to restaurants, shopping, etc. It must not be that bad. I dont want to hear it.

    • Truly horrific. We’ve been trying to call attention to fire risk here in Texas. We don’t want anything remotely like that to happen. It’s just an awful tragedy.

  13. Some summers are average, while others are lower or higher than average for temperatures and rain chances. We’ve just in the midst of summer, albeit the second half. August is typically hot and dry (though last August was abnormally rainy), and we should start to see rain chances pick up as we get into later summer and early fall. In the meantime, don’t let the media hysteria cause you stress (because that’s all it really does).

  14. A Texas summer will always be more tolerable than a Chicago winter. You can get outside early or late and walk or workout… you cannot be outside in sub zero temperatures period.

    • Not this summer. It’s been barely getting down to a low of around 80 and it’s over 90 until 10 or 11 at night. Even at the “coolest” part of the day at 4 or 5 am, it’s not pleasant, just tolerable. I’m of the opinion the hot nights are the worst part of Texas summers. In Houston and then of south of here there are at least 3 months out of the year where it doesn’t drop below 70.

      I think a lot of weather complaining is “grass is always greener” stuff. The people from the north counterintuitively seem to moan less about the summers because they moved here to escape winters. In my case, I’ve dealt with trash summers like this my whole life and I have no more patience for it. So while I’m sure a bitterly cold winter would be annoying, it might take a while to build up to the level of red-hot violent hatred I have for Texas summers.

      • Agreed that there’s no escape this summer. My (very active) dog really can’t last more than 10-15 minutes at 6am or 10pm. He is notttt satisfied with our current activity level, but I’ll take a bored dog over a dog w heat stroke I guess.

  15. Be careful out there if you’re over 65 or have a health issue. It can sneak up on you even if you’re well hydrated.

  16. I think I would just want to live somewhere else for the summers. Like my ancestors did before AC. And yes those fires on Maui have really left me demoralized that the places I want to travel to are disappearing.

  17. Is the Tonga submarine volcano eruption in December 2021 explain this heat dome? When the volcano erupted it pushed 146 metric megatons of sea water into the atmosphere. Doesn’t water trap heat?

    • It does not. It may explain part of it, but this summer was likely to unfold this way with or without Tonga. There is definitely some chance that this could help artificially warm the globe in a broad sense over the next couple years, but it can’t necessarily explain specific events like this summer.

  18. I honestly appreciate the realism from you guys! Been feeling pretty blah about hiding indoors for the last month and a half, and your reports have fit the reality lol. Love your work whether it’s fire season, hurricane season, or freeze season!!

  19. This heat is relentless. Been living here 40 years. I’d like a winter of snow and ice in a trade for a moderate summer.

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