Father’s Day may see the return of storms, especially near the coast

Hi all. I’m jumping in on Father’s Day to say that we are seeing some fairly high atmospheric moisture levels this morning that may, in turn, lead to at least scattered thunderstorms today, if not more widespread storms. This will provide a contrast to the recent string of hot and sunny days Houston has experienced.

NOAA rain accumulation forecast for Father’s Day. (Weather Bell)

The next three days all look fairly wet for the region. Given the higher moisture levels, a disturbed atmosphere, and a weak “cool” front on Monday night and Tuesday, each day should see elevated rain chances. Sunday through Tuesday will each probably have about a 50 to 70 percent chance of rain during the daytime, with lesser odds at night. The better rain chances will come closer to the coast, and for the eastern half of the region.

In terms of three-day accumulations, most of the area will probably see 0.5 to 1.5 inches if rain. However, for areas closer to the coast, and east of Interstate 45, it would not surprise me to see some areas pick up 3 to 5 inches between now and Tuesday night.

It’s not going to be a total washout, by any means. And areas west and north of Houston will likely see a fair bit of sunshine over the next few days. But if you’re heading to the beach to celebrate dad today, you probably should also buy him an umbrella as a gift—just in case.

We’ll return with a full post on Monday morning.

A mostly quiet couple days in Houston, as Gulf tropical system passes well to our east

Compared to earlier this week, it certainly feels a little more comfortable, with temperatures ranging from the mid or upper 60s well inland to around 80 degrees at the coast.

6 AM and it doesn’t feel dreadfully humid in much of the area, with even some 60s peppered in on the map. (NOAA)

We will see another day or so of drier air, helping to keep us relatively comfortable, thanks in part to Potential Tropical Cyclone #3 in the Gulf, which will pass to our east into Louisiana. This farther east track leads to a handful of minor forecast changes this weekend.

Today & Saturday

Both today and tomorrow look fairly uneventful in our area, with a mix of sun and clouds. Yes, there could be a stray shower or two that makes into the Houston region, and there could be a portion of an outer band from PTC3 that grazes eastern fringes of our area. But aside from that, it will just be hot and a bit humid. Look for highs in the low to mid-90s (some isolated upper-90s can’t be ruled out) and lows in the 70s. Humidity will likely increase a bit tomorrow, and the morning will feel less comfortable than yesterday or today has felt.

The big weekend change is that rain chances look higher on Sunday than they do Saturday now.

Sunday

We begin a little more onshore flow on Sunday, which means more humidity. Morning lows in the upper-70s seem more likely here. It also means a better chance at isolated to scattered thunderstorms, as a weak disturbance in the upper atmosphere finds a route into Texas and taps into some of that onshore flow. Not everyone will see rain, but there will likely be at least a few showers or storms around Sunday afternoon. High temperatures will be in the mid-90s.

Monday

Right now, Monday looks like a classic June day in Houston with sun, clouds, high humidity, morning lows in the 70s, daytime highs in the low-90s, and a chance of afternoon thunderstorms.

Tuesday & beyond

By Monday night, an actual cold front will be moving across Texas from north to south. We are unlikely to enjoy the cooler, less humid benefits of said front, but we will likely see scattered to perhaps even numerous showers and thunderstorms on Tuesday. Locally heavy rain is possible here, and a healthy chunk of the area should see at least some rain. Expect a less hot day Tuesday, with some chance highs don’t get above 90 degrees.

Expected rainfall on Tuesday and Wednesday next week will vary, but many places could see a half-inch to three-quarters of an inch of rain, with others seeing less and a handful seeing more. (Weather Bell)

By Wednesday and Thursday, rain chances won’t drop to zero, but they will diminish a bit as the front fizzles and high pressure begins to nose into the area. Look for highs back in the 90s and lows in the mid to upper-70s.

PTC 3 update

Potential Tropical Cyclone #3 continues across the Gulf this morning. To be honest, this is about as healthy as it has looked in its life cycle since it became an area to watch.

PTC 3 is steaming across the Gulf, heading toward the central Gulf Coast. (Weathernerds.org)

There’s a significant blowup of thunderstorms near and north/east of the center. This is why forecasters have been banging the drum regarding heavy rain being the main concern. Whatever the case, we assume we will see Tropical Storm Claudette come of this mess and approach the Louisiana coast tonight between Vermilion Bay and New Orleans.

PTC 3, what should be Claudette, will make landfall in eastern Louisiana tonight. (NOAA)

Locally, no impacts are expected, aside from perhaps slightly rougher surf and stronger than normal rip currents. Please use caution if swimming in the Gulf this weekend.

The main impacts in Louisiana and the Southeast will be from heavy rainfall. About 4 to 8 inches of rain should fall in southeast Louisiana, southern Mississippi, southern Alabama, and portions of the Florida Panhandle.

Heavy rainfall will occur across much of the Southeast over the next 3 days. (Pivotal Weather)

Higher amounts will be possible there, but the system may actually move along fast enough now to prevent major problems. But if your travels take you east of Louisiana this weekend, plan accordingly.

We aren’t expecting significant forecast changes this weekend, so look for our next update, as per usual, on Monday morning.

Tropics forecast becoming clearer, as Houston weekend outlook improves

Good morning. On Wednesday I wrote that it seemed likely the Gulf of Mexico disturbance was going to track east of the Houston region, and now I’m confident that will be the case. As a result, while the Houston region may see some modest rain this weekend, and some higher tides, we should escape significant effects from the tropical system. I’ll discuss this more below.

Thursday

Houston’s high temperature topped out at 97 degrees on Wednesday, and I think we’ll be just a shade lower than that today, with highs generally in the mid-90s across the region. Speaking of shade, you’d better finds some, because skies will be mostly sunny. Winds will be light, out of the east. Clear skies may allow temperatures to drop into the mid-70s overnight.

Friday

Friday will start out a lot like Thursday, but as the tropical system begins to lift north into the central and then northern Gulf of Mexico, we may see some rain chances along the coast. Galveston probably has a 40 percent chance of seeing some light showers during the afternoon, with lower chances inland. Otherwise, highs for much of the region will likely be in the mid-90s, with partly to mostly sunny skies.

NOAA rain accumulation forecast for now through Sunday. (Weather Bell)

Saturday and Sunday

The region’s rain chances will probably be highest on Saturday, with perhaps 40 percent coverage of light to moderate showers due to the tropical system. Chances are highest to the east of Interstate 45, where some coastal areas closer to Beaumont and Port Arthur may see 0.5 to 1 inch of rain. Skies will be partly to mostly sunny when it’s not raining. Rain chances are lower on Sunday, probably in the 20 percent range. Look for highs in the low- to mid-90s both days.

Next week

By around Monday, a late season cool front is expected to move into northern Texas. While I don’t think it will bring much dry air to the Houston region, it should bring increased rain chances to our region from about Monday night into early Wednesday. It’s too early to say much about accumulations, but certainly an inch or so of rainfall would not be unwelcome after our recent heat spell. This may also push highs into the low 90s for a few days—also not unwelcome.

Satellite image showcasing a disorganized disturbance on Thursday morning. (NOAA)

Tropics

The disturbance in the Southern Gulf of Mexico remains a blobby mess, but it should begin to get better organized today, and then start to lift northward. All of the reliable model guidance now brings a tropical depression or weak tropical storm toward Louisiana, with a likely landfall late Friday night or on Saturday. As the storm will probably be sheared, its major rainfall will come to its east, likely over New Orleans, and the coastal Mississippi and Alabama regions. I’d expect 5 to 10 inches of rainfall across widespread areas there, with higher local totals. This is definitely something to consider if New Orleans or travel along Interstate 10 is in your plans this weekend. The good news is that the tropical system should move a little faster than previously anticipated, meaning conditions along the Gulf coast should begin to improve by Sunday.

Storms possible again this afternoon, and a troubling heat statistic

My family and I were driving through Houston on Tuesday evening, after a long day in the car returning from a family reunion, when the heavens opened up. I certainly did not expect to hit that kind of storm, with winds in excess of 40 mph at some locations, and relatively brief heavy rainfall. But it goes to show you what summertime Houston can do in absence of dominant high pressure and with a sea breeze during the afternoon and evening hours. Today could see similar activity, although I don’t think it will be as widespread.

The other two big stories are the heat and the potential for a tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico. I’ll discuss the latter below. But in regard to the heat, Matt shared this sobering statistic with me. Before the storms fired up on Tuesday, Bush Intercontinental Airport hit 98 degrees for the fourth straight day. Since 1888 that has happened only three other times this early in summer: in 1902, 1998, and 2011. All three of those years ended up in the top-15 warmest summers, and 2011 was the warmest summer on record.

Houston finds itself on the edge of a high pressure system over the southwestern United States. (Weather Bell)

Wednesday

Houston remains on the periphery of an intense ridge of high pressure situated over the Western United States. Effectively, this means that we’ll see hot weather, as well as a chance of showers and thunderstorms this afternoon and evening driven by the sea breeze. Coverage should be less than on Tuesday afternoon. Otherwise, look for highs again in the upper 90s, with sunny skies. Lows tonight will remain around 80 degrees, or just below.

Thursday

Another day like Wednesday, albeit with temperatures perhaps a degree or two cooler, and rain chances a little bit lower as well. For most of us, this will simply be a hot and sunny day.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

Beginning Friday our weather will be largely dependent on the development of the tropical system in the southern Gulf of Mexico, and its eventual track northward. I’ll discuss the system in the section below, but for now our forecast—which is very much subject to change—is as follows.

Friday will likely see mostly sunny conditions, with highs in the mid-90s, and increasing rain chances along the coast. These showers may spread inland overnight. However, as Matt has discussed, this likely will be a lopsided tropical system, likely with the vast majority of its effects on its eastern side. So if the “center” makes landfall even slightly east of Houston, we’ll fall on the dry side of the storm. I think this will happen. So while there is definitely a chance of heavy rainfall in the Houston region on Saturday, it now seems more probable that we’ll see little to no precipitation.

NOAA rainfall accumulation map for now through Sunday. (Weather Bell)

Regardless of what happens on Saturday, by Sunday the system should be moving away from the region, leaving us with mostly sunny skies, a lingering chance of showers and thunderstorms, and highs in the mid-90s.

Gulf of Mexico disturbance

The disorganized system of showers and thunderstorms is still expected to coalesce into a tropical depression or storm this week, and the National Hurricane Center gives it 90 percent chance of doing so. As this system presently lacks a center, there is the usual uncertainty in track and intensity forecasts. With that said, the overall pattern now favors a more northward track, and this likely would bring the low pressure system toward southern Louisiana, rather than Texas. This is why I’m leaning against heavy rainfall in Houston this weekend, but not ready to make a definitive call. I definitely have more concerns about Louisiana, however, especially the New Orleans area which may see 10 to 15 inches of rainfall.

European model ensemble forecast for “probability” of a tropical depression this week. (Weather Bell)

In terms of intensity, the combination of wind shear and ingestion of dry air will likely limit this system’s potential to that of a low-end tropical storm. But again, it’s difficult to say anything definitive at this time.