Please don’t freak out about tonight’s storms, Houston

Earlier today, I did a short telephone interview with The Weather Channel. Nice people. But they were really playing up the potential for serious flooding in Houston tonight. I offered a mild correction—that this was kind of a characteristic spring storm, and not something too worrisome—but that message seems to be getting lost. So let me reiterate it: Yes, some heavy rains are coming to the region this evening, and during the overnight hours, probably widespread accumulations of 1 to 4 inches, with higher isolated totals. No, we don’t expect widespread mayhem.

Rainfall accumulation forecast for now through the weekend. (NOAA)

The setup for heavy rainfall is clear; a slow-moving cold front is moving toward Houston and lifting the warm, moist air at the surface. Some training of heavy thunderstorms is possible as the convective activity feeds off of the warm Gulf of Mexico moisture. Fortunately, the front itself should move off the coast on Thursday, taking this mess with it. Here’s the outlook for Houston until then.

Wednesday afternoon/evening

So far today the heaviest rain showers have largely remained to the west and north of the Houston metro area, but as the front sags toward Houston that will change. Short-term modeling shows heavier rain showers moving from west to east into the northwestern part of Houston around 5 to 6pm, and pushing into the rest of the metro area later on. Heavy rainfall (and associated street flooding) is the primary concern, but we also can’t rule out some hail or a few tornadoes. As rains move into your area, it’s best to avoid driving if possible.

Wednesday overnight

After this initial line of storms moves through Houston, it appears as though a second area of storms may move from southwest to northeast through the region after midnight. These storms, too, will be capable of producing heavy rainfall, and briefly flooding streets. The good news is that these storms will occur when most people are safely at home. The bad news is that they’re probably going to wake you up.

Thursday morning

Most of the model guidance suggests that the storms will be exiting the Houston area by around sunrise on Thursday, and any flooding problems should clear up pretty quickly. After this, as a bonus, our pollen problems should ease up.

We’ll update later tonight, if necessary.

32 thoughts on “Please don’t freak out about tonight’s storms, Houston

  1. Megan

    I was watching TWC when they brought you on. I thought you did a great job; as always. I know it’s going to be a significant rain, thunder, wind event. I am nervous because of Harvey, but, I know you & Matt will keep us updated-not ALARMED.
    Thank you for all that you do!

  2. Susan

    I don’t worry until YOU tell me it’s time to worry….. Take that Weather Channel!! 🙂 🙂

  3. David

    Will the 2nd line of storms that will be moving through after midnight be capable of producing tornado-like activity or is that only a concern with the first line of storms?

    1. Eric Berger

      I honestly don’t think it’s that big of a concern with either line of storms, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the tornado watch is extended.

  4. Kelly

    Most. Favorite. Weather. People. Ever.

    Thanks again … and again … for keeping a cool head and writing a great weather forecast! That is an invaluable service. Also I am still laughing about the “mild correction” to the Weather Channel. Awesomeness!

  5. Christi

    Thank you for being so rational about this storm. It’s good to be cautious but not to scare people especially post-Harvey Houston.

  6. Bill Martin

    That sounds so like the “used to be” Weather Channel. All drama queens – Stephanie Abrams – and primadonas – Jim Cantore. I’m sure your calm explanations were not fitting into their drama script for this morning. Sure miss the calm old grey haired guys who would calmly explain weather. Thank you Eric & Matt for the great job you do!

  7. P. J. Deneen

    You guys are the greatest. It is really comforting to have local meteorologists give us information specific to our area. And I love your folksy way of explaining weather conditions and predictions. Thank you!

  8. Cathy Williams

    Thanks! I love your no nonsense, no hype, no hysteria weather reports and forecasts. You’re the one source we trust.

  9. Blackhawks Fan

    One thing the TV stations, probably the news directors, seem to subscribe to is – if you don’t have a crisis to show, buy all means make one up to get ratings. Hence the mobile units reporting live as they drive through light or moderate rain, or the occasional snowflake.

    The bad thing about this is it results in a case of Chicken Little. That’s why a lot of us didn’t believe the initial forecasts about Harvey we saw on the TV. Around 4PM that Saturday, after only getting 1 1/2″ of rain, I was declaring it another bust. About 6 hours later, I was proved wrong.

    These guys have to realize their first responsibility is to the public, not to the profitability of the news department.

    1. David

      That’s right. That is exactly what happened with me and I play down the event and never expected it to be as bad as it was…..all because I was used to these things being overhyped.

      But it was during Harvey that I found Space City weather so at least one good thing came from it!

      1. Blackhawks Fan

        Remember back maybe 10 years ago when Ch 11 brought back Neil Frank to cover a TROPICAL DEPRESSION about to hit Houston? He was caught saying “this thing is so over-hyped” into what was actually a hot mic. We never saw him again as far as I can remember…… hope he is OK…..

    2. Megan

      This happened to my parents, rather catastrophically. My wife and I lived with them at the time and were planning to leave town that Friday to visit family in Nebraska for the weekend. I looked at the forecasts, all the Space City Weather folks, and decided we needed to leave on Thursday, missing several classes, in order to be absolutely sure we weren’t on the road when folks from the southern coastal regions were evacuating and reaching I45 north of us.

      The house is a few blocks from Braes Bayou, original low slab 50s construction. We BARELY escaped water in the house in the previous two floods, thanks to a VERY small rise in the street right on our block. Told my parents repeatedly that they needed to prepare for flooding. Sandbags, move as much furniture and belongings UP as possible, etc. He didn’t listen, insisted everything was going to be fine, ignored the links to this site I gave him. We did what we could in a hurry with our stuff, left instructions for how to handle our cats in the event of a flood (“here are their crates if you have to evacuate, otherwise, if it floods, put the litter box and food/water on our nightstands, and they’ll hide on the bed in reach of them the second their paws get wet”), and left.

      I was 100% ignored. Next thing I know my mom is calling, standing in a foot of water, asking wtf to do with the cats yowling and scratching her, because my dad lost the instructions and never told her they existed.

      We got stuck in Nebraska for a week before returning and moving into a crappy shoebox apartment with no dishwasher and stairs my disabled wife often can’t climb, with 2 days notice while the entire damn city was looking for unflooded housing (all we could find quickly and afford as broke full time students with major expensive medical issues, thus why we were with parents), and the house is still being fixed while my parents look at moving to Austin. Wouldn’t have happened if my dad had actually paid attention to Space City Weather like I told him to.

  10. Ed Schauseil

    Space City Weather is the first place I check whenever there’s anything “exciting” approaching Houston Area. TWC and the local stations are only interested in providing, breathless, pulse-pounding, nail-biting hype to hook the sheeple into watching. Facts, delivered in a straightforward fashion just doesn’t boost the ratings.

    Thank you for keeping it straight…and interesting…without the hype!

  11. Mary Cockrum

    I don’t even live in Texas and I love your daily updates! How about doing an Emerald Coast Weather!

  12. lee

    (Apologies if anyone noticed the web server being down for about 12 minutes just before 18:00—had a bit of an unscheduled outage because I was trying something and it turned out to be a dumb thing. All’s well now!)

  13. Shannon Winton

    Thank you for giving us the real info. For all of us who were here through Harvey, there’s nothing as nervewracking as the term ‘flood’.

  14. tanstaafl

    We got 2.31 inches of rain between 4PM and 6PM up here in the Champions area. Brought back some unpleasant memories as I went out and unclogged the drains in the yard in the middle of the deluge. But, it’s stopped now, unlike last fall. (Also–the new rain gauge is working great!)

    1. CCollins

      I so appreciate your level-headed outlooks without all the drama. You provide smart, succinct views with good backup information without trying to scare the living daylights out of everyone.

      Thanks to both of you!!

  15. NL

    Thank you guys so much for your level headed/accurate coverage. I now only listen to Herzog and you guys.

  16. Kim Robards

    Thank you so much for the drama free weather. Like many Houstonians I get pretty nervous when the other weather people start throwing out words like flooding. To a point Houston is used to flooding. It’s the Harvey/Tax Day/Allison flooding that worries me. I really appreciate that you distinguish between what’s “normal” flooding for us. You ease my nerves (and save me a trip to buy water – ugh!) I love you guys! ❤️❤️❤️

  17. Kevin

    Thanks for the updates on this one. Recent years have shown that slow moving fronts hitting very moist air in the spring can have really bad flooding consequences in Houston, and not just the Tax Day and Memorial Day floods. It’s nice to see an informed perspective.

  18. Brad

    I don’t comment much but I read your blog daily. Thank you thank you for your amazing service. Invaluable to Houston.

  19. Mary E Johnson

    A big reason that I look to this weather report is the sensibility associated with the information. Thank you Eric for trying to counter the sensationalism that TWC was trying to generate. Thank you for keeping it real!

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