La Niña is finally over. That may mean a slightly quieter Atlantic hurricane season

This week NOAA said a three-year La Niña event in the Pacific Ocean is finally over. While neutral conditions are likely to exist for the next few months, forecasters now expect a fairly strong El Niño to develop later this spring or early summer. Typically, for Texas, this means a warmer than normal summer, and a cooler and wetter than normal winter.

Modeling indicates a likely transition to El Niño by April or May of this year. (NOAA)

Perhaps most critically for the Houston region, El Niño tends to sap some of the strength of the Atlantic hurricane season by increasing wind shear levels. The effect is moderate, but notable. During El Niño years there are an average of about five hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. During La Niña years there are closer to an average of seven hurricanes. So the dice are more loaded toward impacts in La Niña years.


Some light showers have developed north of Houston this morning, extending as far southward as The Woodlands, in response to a passing disturbance in the upper atmosphere. This will continue to produce a chance of (very) light rain throughout most of today. Otherwise, we are going to see partly sunny skies with highs of around 70 degrees. Winds will be light, out of the northeast, before shifting to become more eastward tonight. Lows will drop into the low 60s.


Skies will be mostly cloudy on Thursday, and winds will turn southeasterly. This flow off the Gulf of Mexico will pick up significantly, with gusts up to 25 or 30 mph. Highs will reach the mid-70s and humidity will return as well with perhaps a 20 percent chance of light rain. Lows on Thursday night will only drop into the low 70s.

Forecast for maximum wind gusts on Friday in Houston. (Weather Bell)


This will be a warm and humid day, with mostly cloudy skies and highs in the mid-80s. Winds will be significant, gusting to 35 or even 40 mph out of the south. It will be another warm night.

Saturday and Sunday

So here’s the deal. A weak-ish cold front is going to approach our area early on Saturday morning. This system is going to bring storms well to the north of the Houston metro area, but if we see any precipitation in the Houston metro area it likely will be light. The bigger question is how the front will affect temperatures and dewpoints. My sense is that the front will essentially push down all the way to the coastline by Saturday mid-morning and then start pulling back northward by Saturday evening. So how much dry air you see will depend on how far inland you live. In any case, the front should pull northward of even areas like Conroe by Sunday.

In terms of temperatures, I’ll ballpark low-80s for Saturday, with partly sunny skies, and increasing clouds for Sunday with a high of around 80 degrees. As moisture levels return we will probably see a decent chance of showers later on Sunday, perhaps 30 or 40 percent during the afternoon hours.

Next week

Most of next week looks warm, and humid, with highs in the mid- to upper-80s and partly to mostly cloudy skies. Perhaps some kind of front will arrive by Wednesday and Thursday to offer us a temporary reprieve and bump up rain chances. But my overall confidence in that happening is far from high. In tomorrow’s forecast I’ll offer an early guess about the forecast for Easter Sunday in Houston.

20 thoughts on “La Niña is finally over. That may mean a slightly quieter Atlantic hurricane season”

  1. So, even stinkin’ hotter than it’s been stinkin’ hot the last few summers, but slightly less nerve-racking mid-July through mid-October (maybe I’ll only have to worry about getting hit by one hurricane at a time this summer?). The climate around here is still the pits, though a cooler winter is appreciated (like not 80+ on Christmas).

  2. We haven’t had a how many days since the high was less than 100 summer in a while. We are about due.

  3. What is the relationship of Houston summer rainfall totals to El Niño or La Niña seasons?

    • There isn’t much of a connection to what the Summer will be like during El Nino or La Nina. It can go either way just based off history. We have a little bit of a better chance for more rain during La Nina summers because of the reduced windshear in the Gulf of Mexico which gives us a higher chance to be impacted by tropical systems. However El Nino and La Nina seems to influence our weather alot more during the Fall and Winter months.

  4. My experience is that when these surface temperature anomalies approach +2C, major flooding events are much more likely to happen in Houston. Makes me nervous.

    • I have noticed that as well. Many of our harshest cold snaps have happened during La Nina Winters. El Nino Winters tend to be colder on average but we don’t usually don’t see cold snaps on the level of teens with zero degree wind chills. La Nina winters tend to be much more bipolar with temperatures in the teens and 20s, and then 70s and 80s just a few days later for a week or more.

  5. Im so glad that La Nina is history and texas will be in El Nino by late July or early Aug and we will be welcoming the rains of it in tx. We need rain so badly

Comments are closed.