Cooler weather and decent rain chances return to Houston, but will it deliver?

We officially topped off at 101° yesterday for the third straight day, but we think the next few days will feature more tolerable temperatures, as rain chances inch upward. And it’s needed, as drought has expanded across the Houston area with 12 percent of the area in exceptional drought (level 4/4).

Over 65 percent of the Houston region is in extreme or exceptional drought as of this week. (NOAA)

This was underscored by the deadly grass fire in the Cypress area yesterday. Grass fires can happen in the Houston area, so please use caution, even if you get a good bit of rain in the coming days.

Today

With a disturbance in the middle levels of the atmosphere moving toward Matagorda Bay, we are already seeing numerous showers and storms develop — over the Gulf.

Rainfall is almost entirely offshore this morning, but we should see trends bringing some of this onshore throughout the day. (RadarScope)

As the day goes on, we’ll see rainfall expand onshore. I still don’t think everyone will see rain today, but most places near the coast should see showers, with more scattered coverage as you go inland from there. Storms should move slowly but steadily today, so areas with the most persistent rains could see an inch or two, while some neighborhoods will only hear distant thunder. But coverage will be greater than it has been in recent days.

With clouds and showers nearby, look for highs ranging from the upper 80s at the coast to low 90s in Houston to middle or upper 90s to the north and west.

Weekend

We’re going to maintain pretty healthy rain chances into Saturday. Again, not everyone will see rain tomorrow, but there should be coverage along the lines of what we see today; initially at the coast in the morning, spreading inland as the day progresses. Rain totals will range from nothing to an inch or two in the most persistent or slowest moving storms. Morning lows in the 70s will give way to daytime highs similar to today, with upper-80s to low-90s for Houston south and east, building to the upper-90s to near 100 or so from Columbus to College Station to Madisonville.

Sunday looks to see very similar weather, with hit and miss storms and temperatures about where they will be on Saturday.

While some places will see more rain and others less rain than shown here, this NWS outlook gives you an idea of how rainfall should be distributed today through Sunday, highest at the coast, least inland. (Pivotal Weather)

Overall, rain totals should average a quarter to half-inch or so across the area, with some neighborhoods seeing several inches of rain and others seeing next to nothing. Yes, someone will end up disappointed from this period of higher rain chances, but it’s our best opportunity in some time.

Early next week

Rain chances should ebb heading into Monday and Tuesday, or at least be more co-located with the daily sea breeze off the Gulf. So coverage should diminish but not disappear completely. Temperatures will respond, back up to the low-90s along the Gulf, mid-90s in Houston, and near 100 well inland.

Later next week

The back half of next week is sort of in flux right now. One model (the Euro) is trying to bring a front into our area, which would enhance shower and storm coverage, though it would be unlikely to bring heat relief. The GFS keeps that away, but it does have higher rain chances later next week. Bottom line? We need a couple days to sort out late next week. But expect some rain chances and hot (but not extremely hot) weather.

Tropics

All remains quiet into early next week.

One more really hot day before a pattern change brings rain chances and cooler weather

Houston now has officially recorded 20 100-degree days this year, which is enough to tie us for fourth all-time for any calendar year. The bad news is that we’re going to see yet another day with widespread triple-digit temperatures across the region today. The good news is that this may be the last one for at least several days with relief on the horizon.

Matt Lanza has been keeping a running tally of 100-degree days on Twitter. (Space City Weather)

Thursday

It will be another scorcher as high pressure drives inland temperatures above 100 degrees, with mostly sunny skies. Winds will be out of the south at about 10 mph, with higher gusts. Like on Wednesday, we’ll see some scattered showers and thunderstorms fire up along the sea breeze, but overall chances are only about 10 or 20 percent. Overnight lows will again struggle to drop below 80 degrees.

Rain chances on Friday for the metro area. (National Weather Service)

Friday

As high pressure retreats, an upper-level low pressure system will help usher in a surge a tropical moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. This will lead to partly to mostly cloudy skies, and bump up rain chances for areas that are either east of Interstate 45, along the coast, or both. We’re talking about a 60 or 70 percent chance of rain for these areas, with lesser chances further inland and westward. Overall accumulations won’t be above a few tenths of an inch for most locations, but some areas should see bullseyes of 1 to 2 inches. Highs will be dependent upon clouds and rain, but should hold in the low-90s for much of the area.

Saturday and Sunday

Both weekend days should see highs in the low- to mid-90s, with mostly sunny skies. Rain chances will remain elevated for coastal areas, especially on Saturday. But we’re not looking at anything approaching a washout as showers will be hit or miss, and should move through quickly.

Next week does not look obscenely hot. (Pivotal Weather)

Next week

This should be, dare I say it, a decent week for August? For the most part we’re going to see high temperatures in the low- to mid-90s, and the most likely outcome is that high pressure does not build back over the region. Rather, we should see enough moisture for at least a 30 percent, if not higher, chance of rain each day. For August, man, I’ll take it.

Two more very hot days before a few cooler and potentially wetter days

High pressure will continue to dominate our weather for a couple of more days before a low-pressure system brings some relief on Friday. Accordingly, instead of highs reaching 100 degrees for much of the region, we should be down in the low- to mid-90s, along with some decent rain chances this weekend.

Wednesday

For today, however, we can expect widespread highs of 100 degrees away from the coast as the Houston region bakes beneath mostly sunny skies. Rain chances are about 20 percent along the coast this afternoon, and perhaps 10 percent for inland areas. Winds will be out of the south at about 10 mph, with higher gusts. The city will struggle to fall below 80 degrees tonight.

High temperatures will generally be 5 to 7 degrees above normal today and Thursday away from the coast. (Weather Bell)

Thursday

More of the same.

Friday

An upper-level low pressure system will move into the area, and this will also bring a surge a tropical moisture. As a result we’re going to see a healthy chance of showers and thunderstorms. I’d put chances for areas east of Interstate 45 as high as 60 or 70 percent, whereas the potential for rain west of the freeway is probably closer to 50 percent. Accumulations will probably average a few tenths of an inch, but there will be pockets of higher totals. As a result of the rain and pattern change, highs on Friday may top out in the low 90s.

Saturday and Sunday

Rain chances of 40 percent, or so, will linger through the weekend but coverage should be less than on Friday. Skies should be partly to mostly sunny, and as a result we can probably expect high temperatures to reach the mid-90s.

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

Next week

Most of next week looks to see fairly typical weather for August. Climatologically, early-to-mid August often is the hottest time of year for Houston, so this means highs generally in the mid-90s for Houston, with warmer conditions for inland areas such as College Station. Rain chances won’t be zero, and there’s a chance we could see a mid-week system that will bring us some additional, much-needed rainfall.

Eye on the Tropics: August begins on a calm note

The Atlantic continues to lie dormant as August begins, which is good news for those hoping to avoid hurricanes. While the quiet is almost certainly going to break eventually, each day that goes by in August and September without a storm is a good day.

Tropical outlook in a sentence

Things remain quiet in the Atlantic basin with no real development expected over the next week.

Where to watch in August

As the calendar flips to August, we get into the heart of hurricane season. Basically, mid-August through late September is our marathon stretch. For Houston, our risks in August are still mostly close to home.

Houston has had 10 hurricanes pass within 100 miles of the city in Augusts since the 1800s. Of those, 8 waited to develop until they got into the Gulf. (NOAA)

Using NOAA’s fantastic historic hurricane tool, we can get a sense of where to watch specific to Houston. Since the 1800s, Houston has had 10 hurricanes pass within 100 miles of downtown in the month of August. If you expand this to include tropical storms, the number increases to 17. With the exception of the 1915 storm (one that is worthy of a blog post of its own one day), all of August’s hurricanes in Houston formed in either the far western Caribbean or Gulf. In other words, while we watch the deep Atlantic and often discuss long-tracking hurricanes, they typically don’t impact us in August. That doesn’t mean they can’t, as 1915 proves, but our attention should be primarily focused close to home this month.

Yes, we’re talking tropical waves that struggle across the Atlantic, but hold together enough to ultimately develop in the Gulf. But we’re also looking for thunderstorm complexes that roll off the Gulf Coast into the open water. Or early season (weak) cold fronts that die off in the Gulf.

Notably, of the 17 total hurricanes and tropical storms (including Harvey) to pass within 100 miles of Houston in August, 15 formed in the Gulf or far western Caribbean. Again, closer to home is where the meat of our risk lies in August. This also means storms can form quickly, so it’s important to have a plan and preparations in place should something form.

Anything to watch now?

If we take a look across the Atlantic Ocean, there’s honestly not much happening at the moment.

The Caribbean is quiet, while there are a couple weaker tropical waves in the deeper Atlantic. None is expected to be a serious concern over the next 7 days or so. (Weathernerds.org)

We have a couple waves that are disorganized out in the open Atlantic, but none that is currently expected to develop as it comes west. There are a handful of model ensemble members trying to sort of develop one of the next couple waves that emerges off Africa. But as of today at least, no reliable model guidance shows anything in the Gulf over the next 7-10 days or more. That said, with fairly frequent storm clusters hovering near the northern Gulf over the next week or so, I wouldn’t entirely rule out something trying to weakly organize, though I think it would stay east of Texas.

But for August 2nd, this is about as good as it gets. The Atlantic remains stuck on 3 named storms and is now beginning to run below average for the season in terms of storm intensity. Still, using that metric, 92 percent of the season lies in front of us. It’s still far too early to declare the season a “bust,” and it’s critically important to remember that one storm can spoil the whole season for any given place. Alicia did just that to Houston in 1983, the 5th quietest hurricane season on record. So be wary of making bold declarations on August 2nd.