Good morning. I hope everyone is finding some peace on Labor Day morning. Our short-term forecast remains more or less locked in for the Houston area, with warm-ish days through Wednesday (highs in the low 90s) before a cold front moves through and brings absolutely splendid weather for the second half of this week. We may see some decent rain chances on Tuesday and Wednesday due to the approaching front, but even so most areas probably won’t see more than about a tenth of an inch of rain (if that).
With that said, we’ve had a lot of questions about the tropics—understandably people are still pretty skittish after our brush with Hurricane Harvey. We get that. So here’s a review of what’s out there. Also, I’d like to remind everyone that while the Atlantic hurricane season officially lasts until Nov. 30, for Texas is effectively ends in about three or four weeks. We are almost there, folks.
All eyes are on Irma, a major hurricane with sustained winds of 120mph moving toward the Northwestern Caribbean Sea. It should reach the vicinity of Puerto Rico by Wednesday night, and poses a significant threat to the Caribbean Islands. Here’s the latest (10am CT) track forecast from the National Hurricane Center.
Understandably there is a lot of concern about where the system goes in five to seven days, when it begins to approach Florida and the continental United States. There has been a westward movement in the forecast models over the last day or two, leading to some local concerns that the track may continue to shift westward toward a Texas landfall. We continue to remain pretty confident that is not going to happen.
With that said, the storm’s movement after about Thursday is fairly uncertain. Generally, the ensemble members of both the European and GFS models show the storm moving west-northwest just north of Cuba, and making a turn north just before reaching Florida, over Florida, or just after Florida (into the eastern Gulf of Mexico). Irma is expected to make this northern turn after it finds the western edge of a large ridge of high pressure over the Atlantic region, but at nearly a week from now it’s impossible to determine where that will be.
Our advice remains the same: Irma is likely not a Texas threat—most probably it will be a concern for Florida and the southeastern United States. (I’ve told family members in Houston not to worry). But if you’re a Houstonian sweating Irma after Harvey, we get that. We’ll be here every step of the way to follow the storm’s evolution and potential effects on the United States. The track should become a little more clear as NOAA begins to take more frequent atmospheric soundings over land today (improving model ability to predict the position of the Atlantic high pressure system), and reconnaissance aircraft begin to fly into the system. This should hopefully improve model forecasts tonight, and give us a better idea about the storm’s future movement by early Tuesday morning.
A low pressure system in the southern Gulf of Mexico has popped up on the 5-day outlook from the National Hurricane Center, which says the system will drift to the west or northwest as it remains over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico during the next few days. Given the arrival of a mid-week cold front, we don’t have any great concerns about this for the Houston area.
However, next week we may have to watch the southern Gulf of Mexico, because after the aforementioned front moves through Houston and deep into the Gulf, it may find a decent environment for development. Again, not anything we’re particularly concerned about, just something we’ll need to watch for rainfall potential in a week or 10 days.
Hurricane Harvey review
I had the good fortune to be featured in a lengthy Sunday story in the Houston Chronicle regarding Harvey. Videographer Mark Mulligan also produced this video, which I narrate. It’s quite powerful.
We’ll be back Tuesday morning with a regular update.
Posted on Monday, Sept. 4, 2017 at 9:40am CT