Finally, some decent rainfall returns to Houston’s forecast

After an absolutely spectacular Sunday, in which dewpoints dropped into the 40s and skies turned azure, we’ve got more reasonably good news about Houston’s weather. In this case, we’re talking about rainfall. The region’s soils are thirsty, and we think much of the area probably will accumulate 0.5 to 1.0 inch of rain this week, although the details remain a bit fuzzy.

Monday

Skies will turn partly cloudy today as the onshore wind continues to nudge atmospheric moisture levels upward. At the surface, this will manifest in winds of 5 to 10 mph out of the southeast. High temperatures will peak in the low- to mid-80s, and much of the city likely won’t fall below 70 degrees Monday night, with plenty of humidity to go around.

High temperatures will be fairly warm on Monday. (Weather Bell)

Tuesday

Some scattered, light showers will be possible beginning Tuesday morning beneath mostly cloudy skies. We don’t anticipate any significant accumulations, and highs will likely again reach the mid-80s. Expect another warm night with lows around 70 degrees.

Wednesday

A weak front will sag into the region, and this will bring us a better chance of rainfall. I think most of the area probably will see at least some precipitation. This will not be a washout, to be sure, but enough to put at least a small dent in the region’s emerging drought. The weak front should drop lows into the 60s on Wednesday night.

Thursday and Friday

Skies will remain mostly cloudy to end the work week, and we can probably anticipate highs in the 70s and lows somewhere in the 60s. Another, stronger front will likely arrive sometime on Friday or Saturday, and this should bring another round of showers.

Most of the area should see at least some rain this week. (Weather Bell)

Saturday and Sunday

I’m cautiously optimistic about the weekend, which looks positively spring-like. Any lingering showers will probably end on Saturday, and we should see sunnier weather on Sunday. Very tentatively, I’d predict highs will be in the low 70s for both weekend days, and nights could range anywhere from upper 40s for inland areas to low 60s along the coast. This front could have a little more oomph, perhaps keeping the region cooler and drier heading into next week, but that’s dangerously close to speculation on my part.

First look at the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane season

Good morning. The most reputable hurricane season forecasting service, led by Phil Klotzbach at Colorado State University, has released its first outlook for the 2021 Atlantic season. The forecast calls for above normal activity (see table below) with 17 named storms instead of the more typical 12; eight hurricanes instead of six; and about 50 percent total more activity, in terms of the duration and intensity of tropical systems, as measured by accumulated cyclone energy.

This outlook is consistent with other predictions, already released, in calling for a busier than normal season. What I like about Klotzbach’s forecast is that he’s very clear about his methodology—using a combination of statistical modeling, and historical correlations between Spring-time weather conditions and hurricane activity later in the year. Klotzbach also has a reasonable track record.

(Colorado State University)

With that said, seasonal hurricane forecasts are far from perfect. I think, generally, we can expect a busier Atlantic season, but we’re almost certainly not going to see a brute of a year like 2020. Moreover, the chance of the Houston area being directly affected by serious tropical weather (in terms of floods, winds, or surge) is pretty low. Historically, the region only sees a significant storm about once a decade or so. Therefore, while it certainly is time to begin planning for the 2021 Atlantic season, I very much do not want you to start worrying or obsessing about it. Matt and I will, of course, be here every step of the way, and we’ll be releasing a new app before the June 1 beginning of the season to keep you informed.

Friday

A lovely weekend awaits Houston, but first we’ve got to navigate the possibility of some storms later today and tonight, much like we saw a rogue thunderstorm develop near College Station on Thursday night. Highs today will reach the mid-80s, with generally cloudy skies. Winds will be noticeable out of the south, gusting to about 20 mph. An approaching front will drive the potential for showers and thunderstorms this evening and tonight, and their extent will depend on whether a capping inversion breaks.

Most likely, areas south of Interstate 10 probably won’t see much, if any rainfall. And, for the most part, accumulations in the Houston region north of I-10 will be perhaps a tenth of an inch. The best chances for severe weather lie far to the north of Houston, in the Lufkin and Longview areas. But as Thursday night’s storm showed, there is plenty of energy and instability in the atmosphere to generate thunderstorms and hail. So we’ll need to be wary tonight, and if the forecast changes significantly we’ll update accordingly.

NOAA storm outlook for Friday. (Weather Bell)

Saturday

The front itself should push into Houston around sunrise on Saturday, with drier air following in its wake. As a result we should see clearing skies and highs around 80 degrees. Winds will be a bit gusty, out of the north at about 20 mph. Overnight lows should drop into the 50s for inland areas, with 60s along the coast.

Sunday

Another pleasant, sunny day, with highs in the low- to mid-80s and dry air. As winds shift to come from the southeast later in the day, this will allow for low temperatures to be about 5 degrees warmer than Saturday night.

Drought outlook for Texas. (U.S. Drought Monitor)

Next week

I’m hesitant to say too much about the forecast for next week, as it now looks as though we’ll see a succession of weak fronts and disturbances that may, or may not push into Houston. In the end, I’d guess that next week ends up looking a lot like this week. The problem as we get deeper into spring is that we could really use some rainfall. All I can offer you is this: the global models are hinting at better rain chances (and accumulations) around the period of April 16 or 17. An inch or two of rainfall would go a long way given that parts of the region are already in a moderate to severe drought, and the hottest part of the year is yet to come. But I have no idea whether those model forecasts will verify.

We’ll have all the details on that come Monday. Until then, enjoy your lovely weather this weekend, Houston!

Paradoxically, a warmer day after a weak cold front’s passage

Good morning. A weak front limped into Houston overnight, and has brought temperatures down a smidge. Paradoxically, this front will actually help make conditions warmer today, because of slightly drier air and clear skies. Some areas may approach or even reach 90 degrees. Looking further ahead, another front on Friday should set us up for a nice weekend.

High temperature forecast for Thursday. (Weather Bell)

Thursday

Winds are generally calm this morning, but they will soon return from the south as the front washes out. Skies will be clear, and this will set us up for ideal warming conditions, with highs ranging from the lower 80s along the coast, upper 80s inland, and possibly some low 90s southwest of Houston. Because the onshore flow will return today, overnight lows will be warm, in the upper 60s, with increasing clouds.

Friday

This will be another warm day, with highs in the mid- to upper-80s, but with partly to mostly cloudy skies. Of concern to the eastern half of Texas and Louisiana will be dynamics in the upper atmosphere that will induce rising air, and therefore the possibility of showers and thunderstorms. The better chances for severe weather are north of Houston, as shown in NOAA’s warning map below. But if a capping inversion over the Houston region breaks, we could see some thunderstorms break out over the city. For now, the best bet is scattered light showers, but confidence is low. Lows Friday night will be warm again.

NOAA storm outlook for Friday and Friday night.

Saturday

A front should push into Houston between sunrise and noon on Saturday, with a final spurt of rain chances ending at that time. Afterward we should see clearing skies, somewhat drier air, and highs of around 80 degrees. Lows Saturday night should drop into the 50s for inland area, with lower 60s closer to the coast.

Sunday

The second half of the weekend should bring plenty of sunshine, with highs in the mid-80s. Humidity will be fairly low, by Houston standards, but the onshore flow should return in time to make for at least a slightly warmer Sunday night.

Next week

The outlook for next week is somewhat uncertain, but the most likely scenario is an ongoing series of weak to moderate fronts that keep temperatures in the 70s and 80s, with lows generally in the 60s. Hopefully one of these fronts bring us better rain chances—we’ll discuss our emerging drought in tomorrow’s post—as we sure could use a couple of inches of rainfall.

A front moves into Houston later today, and then it will die

Good morning. It’s rather warm across the region, with much of the city experiencing lows only in the 70s. Our weather over the next several days will remain mostly warm and mostly humid, with a few decent chances for rain. In case you’re wondering, the temperatures we’ve experienced this week are about 10 degrees above normal for early April, when we’re typically in the upper 70s during the daytime, and 50s at night.

Wednesday

Partly to mostly cloudy skies today will limit high temperatures today to the low 80s. The “excitement” will come later in the day as a dying front sags into Houston, and peters out over the region. Instability associated with this front may provide the impetus for some showers, especially north and northeast of Houston. The extent of rainfall, however, will depend on the strength of a capping inversion. For now I think this cap will limit rising air, and showers fairly scattered this evening as a result. Lows Wednesday night should range from the low 60s for areas far inland the low 70s along the coast.

High temperatures for Thursday. (Weather Bell)

Thursday

Skies should be sunnier on Thursday, and with a more southwesterly flow we can expect an influx of warmer air that should allow high temperatures to rise into the upper-80s for much of the region away from the coast, with highs of around 90 degrees possible for Sugar Land, Katy, and other areas southwest and west of Houston. Lows Thursday night will drop to around 70 degrees.

Friday

Another warm day, with highs again approaching 90 degrees, despite the presence of more clouds. The region’s next chance for rain showers or storms will come Friday afternoon into the overnight hours. This will again be a battle between instability and other factors favoring rain showers, and a capping inversion. Areas north of Interstate 10 have a decent chance of picking up 0.25 to 0.5 inch of rain, along with some thunderstorms, with lesser totals likely near the coast. A front will drag into the area Friday night, but the drier air will lag behind.

Severe weather outlook for Friday and Friday night. (NOAA)

Saturday and Sunday

As drier air moves into the region on Saturday, I’m cautiously optimistic about the weekend forecast, with the most probable outcome partly sunny skies and highs in the low- to mid-80s. Overnight lows may drop into the 60s, but it’s not going to be particularly chilly. Still, the lower dewpoints will be nice.

Next week

Another front, possibly a stronger one, will arrive by Monday or Tuesday, and this has a chance of bringing us a sustained stretch of slightly cooler days and nights.