Some final thoughts on Beta, and looking forward to fall weather

Well, it’s over. The remains of Beta are crossing Galveston Bay this morning, and with all of the storm’s heaviest precipitation far to its east, we are done. Houston should begin to see some rather fine weather later today and Friday, on the backside of Beta with a northerly flow. And then, while we cannot absolutely promise this, our confidence is fairly high in a robust, fall-like cool front arriving in about one week’s time. Before the forecast, however, I wanted to share a few quick thoughts about our not so dearly departed tropical storm.

It could have been much worse

Let me tell you, if you would have told me a tropical cyclone was going to make landfall about 120 miles down the coast from Galveston, in mid-September, I could envision all manner of nightmare scenarios.

But we had two big allies over the last week; moderate wind shear to prevent Beta from strengthening, and dry air over the state from a weak front that disrupted its circulation and prevented the formation of several, thick bands of rainfall. Instead, if you watched the radar closely, there was only ever really one strong band that was perhaps 10 to 15 miles across. This just happened to set up over Houston on Monday and Monday night, hitting the communities of Friendswood, Pearland, Sugar Land, and more.

Here is a map of the three-day rain totals that show this narrow corridor of 10 to 16 inches of rain over south and southwest Houston. The vast majority of the rest of the upper Texas coast saw 6 inches of rain, or less, from this storm.

Three day rain totals from Tropical Storm Beta. (NOAA)

While Beta was not as long a duration event as Hurricane Harvey (which, by the way, dropped 40-60 inches of rain over much of the area in yellow and green above), three days of potentially heavy rainfall is a long time. Slow-moving tropical systems are no joke. With Beta, not only was there just one main band, but its rainfall rates were not particularly high. I believe this was due to dry air, but I am not sure and will look forward to a post-storm analysis. In any case, we generally saw rainfall rates of 0.5 to 1.5 inches under this band, with a few exceptions, versus rates of 3 to 6 inches that tropical storms often produce.

We have not done nearly enough

Three years have now passed since Harvey, and a tropical storm that we discussed above as pretty moderate, brought the area’s flood systems to its knees. Only the Clear Creek watershed south of Houston, which received 7 to 16 inches of rain across much of its extent, really flooded in a significant way. But a lot of other bayous, like White Oak, Cypress, Buffalo, came up to the top of their banks or briefly spilled over them. A tropical storm that brings a range of 5 to 15 inches rain across Houston, with rainfall rates below 2 inches per hour, is a fairly common event. We will see more like this, and more that are much worse in years ahead.

I know the community has done some nice things, like work on Brays Bayou, since Harvey. But it is not nearly enough. Local, state, and federal officials need to work together to develop and implement a broader flood management plan. I know that is difficult in our nation’s political climate, but the desirability of living in Houston is at stake. Who enjoyed the stress about flooding over the last three days?

I missed Matt

Matt’s wife delivered a son early on Sunday night, so I was flying solo on the site for a couple of days amidst the height of the storm. It sure made me value the fact that I normally have someone to share the load with, and talk through the forecast. Clearly, we need to chain Matt to his desktop when future inclement weather threatens.

Houston’s forecast

There is not a whole lot to say about our weather ahead. All heavy rainfall from Beta has exited the area, and by this afternoon we should start to see some sunshine across Houston. High temperatures will probably get to around 80 degrees. All of the bayou flooding issues we’ve seen, including Clear Creek, should end by this afternoon. Northerly winds will bring slightly drier air into the region, so temperatures tonight may drop into the upper 60s tonight.

Low temperature forecast for Thursday morning. (Pivotal Weather)

Friday and the weekend

The weekend looks outstanding for late summer. I think we can generally expect lots of sunshine, highs ranging from the mid-80s to 90 degrees, and lows around 70. It will be humid, yes, but not as humid as it can get in Houston. We’re definitely entering the end stages of summer in Houston. Rain chances remain low.

Next week

This warm, but not too warm trend will likely continue until about Wednesday of next week when there is fairly good agreement among the global models in a cold front passage. Since this is still a week away it remains too early to say definitively that this will happen, but the signal is pretty strong, and the overall flow pattern in the atmosphere is supportive. I think at least part of the Houston region will have a good shot at lows in the 50s during the second half of next week.

68 thoughts on “Some final thoughts on Beta, and looking forward to fall weather”

  1. Great work Eric, especially after Matt dumped you 😉 .

    Take the rest of the day off and chill by the pool.

    • Thank you Eric! We have learned to trust your weather posts for a reality check – no hype, truth (even by saying you can’t predict with certainty). Well done!

  2. I have been following you guys for years. One MAJOR thing you left out about Beta’s flooding is the 4.7 billion dollars in federal funding we received after Harvey flooding. This was meant to lower the severity of flooding in Harris county. I have only read about some minor projects. This reinforces my hesitation about giving local government that much money, where does it all go!

    • Most of that hasn’t actually been spent yet. It’s been held up by the current presidential administration because we’re a blue city.

      • I doubt that. The city isn’t in control of any of the flood bond money (that was a county bond) and the housing relief money was sent to the city years ago and hasn’t been accounted for.

    • You can go to HCFCD’s website to see what projects have been started and which are scheduled to start. The truth is that amount was much too small to solve all our flooding issues.

    • Living in the Meyerland area, just a few blocks from Brays Bayou – I can tell you a ton has been done here.

      Our neighborhood flooded in 2015, 2016 and 2017 – and finally our section of the bayou was widened significantly. Had it not been widened over the last couple of years, Beta’s rains would have brought it over its banks again.

      Don’t complain idly without doing your homework first. While Eric’s right – not enough has been done – there are places in the city where much-needed work has been done, and it has helped immensely.

  3. Did you know that I read every word on your forecast every time y’all post!!! Honestly, this is the only post I don’t scan thru. Thank y’all!!!

  4. Thank you Eric for all your good work, and congratulations to Matt and his new scientifically-middle-named son…..We have been following Space City Weather since the beginning and appreciate your work!

  5. Clear Creek is the last bit of mostly pristine bayou ecosystem in the area. It’s about time people start realizing the most effective flood management policy is to stop building so close to the bayous, and let those areas remain natural.

    • This article says nothing about activists being put in place. Just because they change the name doesn’t mean they are changing who is involved other than getting more input. Which is actually what the article states. I read it as, we can’t stop all of it, so lets figure out how to deal with it. Maybe getting more input will help.

      Have you ever been to a Brays Bayou Association meeting? I’m sure they would fit your definition of “Community Activists” but they just want to get their neighborhoods fo stop flooding. How evil and improper of them!!! They are “actively” trying to help their “Community”. But since certain media outlets have made “Community Activist” the new outrage, as expected, very few folks really question or understand the broad definition of what a Community Activist “may” be.

      Also, you conveniently gloss over the fact this group has been in existence for the better part of FIFTY (50) years and conveniently accomplished very little to help the community. Those almost FIFTY (50) years include ALL of the previous County Judges efforts and little to no success. If they were successful, explain all the issues in Meyerland or areas around all the other bayous before the current Judge even ran for office. Last I checked, Ike, Harvey, Tax Day, Memorial Day, and ALL the other ones took place under other administrations.

      Please keep the outrage fair and honest. Don’t try to manufacture false outrage because the current administration has a different letter next to their name than yours. And before you go there, I am an Independent.

      • Thanks for the input. Take a look at the details of the plan- removing experts in the field and shifting resources from Precincts 3 and 4 towards 1 and 2 is what is in the works.

      • I think it’s important to at least acknowledge that several of those past county judges also oversaw quite a bit of work in the community, just not Brays. TSARP studies and projects afterward provided a large number of funds post-Allison. The Sims Bayou project was finished right before she was elected using Allison and Harvey funding.

        There’s been a long history of flood projects the county, the city of Houston, and other smaller municipalities. We’re giving her credit here for a project that has been planned since before she was elected.

        And that’s okay. All our politicians are working to make things better (even if there may or may not be self-serving self-preservation). That’s a good thing.

        I think Judge Hildalgo is doing a good thing by providing additional focus to precinct 1 and 2. They have had less attention over the years as most risk analyses that focus on money impact MAY overvalue property value in 3 and 4 (north and west sections of the county). Getting more community input is fine to discuss any shortcomings that MAY be involved.

        Subject matter experts will be involved. They always are because they can help identify the most efficient solutions. Community feedback has always held a place in this process. Balancing a vocal community group and efficiently use of tax payer dollars is always a balance. I don’t see anything she is doing as adversarial to that process.

        In a lighter not, thanks for the coverage. And congrats to Matt!

    • So what you are saying is next time we get heavy rainfall we are going to be encouraged to go out and protest the rains? Got it.

  6. Yes. Flood control. We’ve known the dangers for decades, and we still breathe a sigh of relief after the storm and then just go about business as usual. It’s a problem and we all need to get together on it and so many others! You and Matt are a great team and we all feel safer and more informed when you’re both chained to your desktops! Thank you for your constant support of our community through your weather expertise!

  7. What is it about babies and storms hitting Houston? We were pregnant with my oldest when we evacuated for Rita. My youngest was born 4 days before Ike which let to all kinds of problems. My coworker and his wife had to walk through flood waters with her in labor to get to their hospital during Harvey.

    • I have a friend who delivered right after Laura. While didn’t hit us directly, the baby came slightly early. Maybe when Matt gets back he can do a post on how weather and storms affect labor. 😂

      • I would love to see a report covering data on baby deliveries and Houston area storms. (Congrats Matt and family.)

    • Low pressure! All three of my babies’ labors started with significant storms ( in West Virginia). The first was a January thunderstorm ( rare) that morphed into two feet of snow on the ground, snowing us in hospital. The second was also a March rainstorm and the third was a September rain storm! All three ahead of their due dates! The nurses joked that when the barometer drops, so do babies!

  8. Great job, Eric! Congratulations, Matt (and family)! Thanks for walking us through another one. Bring on the cool front.

  9. Many, many thanks for all you do to keep Houston accurately informed. It matters a lot, and you are so very appreciated.

  10. Eric and Matt, thank y’all for being so diligent and thorough. You are the very first thing I read, when I wake up each morning, during hurricane season. Thank you both for getting us through this one. You guys rock.

  11. We appreciate all you and Matt do. Beta was stressful but because of your (both of you) reporting, not as stressful as it could have been. Harvey should have put the nail in the coffin that states it is only a tropical storm, it isn’t a Cat 5 hurricane. But there is no political will to address the needs of the region even though there is recent ample evidence that the Houston region dodges the bullets. It is only a matter of time and chance that the area will be devastated. And Houston isn’t the only area. From Boston to Brownsville, what major US coastal city region is prepared for a Cat 5 or slowly meandering T/S? If we are going to spend the money to protect our coastal areas we need a comprehensive plan and one that encompasses the worse case scenarios. Spending billions or trillions only to realize too late that the barriers should have been 5 feet higher is folly. A coastal spine should be just one facet of the response – there are many other things that can be done to mitigate the damage, like making buildings and infrastructure as hurricane and flooding proof as possible.

    • I totally agree! How nice it would be if our own homes and businesses were structural safe spots, even in the worst hurricanes and floods..Without having to evacuate or move to higher ground..For the most part, places like our large urban hospitals, or multi story concrete parking garages seem to be the safest spots..I know we must have smart people around who can engineer and build hurricane resistant homes/ apts ..It may be what it takes to make Houston and other Gulf Coast locations better, more desirable places to live..It’s hard to get a proposal for infrastructure remediation to pass thru to completion..In all political climates, there’s just too much red tape, complacency, passing the buck, inertia..Seems to be human nature..

  12. Thanks again Eric and Matt! You are right, the stress of flooding does make us think twice about living in Houston. We have mentioned a few times over the last few weeks that snow is starting to look more desirable again (we moved here from Iowa about 20 years ago). Congratulations to Matt and his family!

  13. Eric and Matt, thank you from South Carolina. We have a daughter in Houston and I try to follow the news and weather regularly. She shared your site back when Hanna was heading towards Texas and I have been a daily follower since. Your forecasts are detailed, well reasoned and I love your staged flood chart. Excellent! And congrats on the new little one, Matt. So glad you didn’t name him Beta 😉

  14. Agree with all the others. Eric and Matt, thank you for your service. I say that because you are provided us a free service that is important. Most, if not all, of us are very grateful.

  15. I subscribed a few days ago and actually find myself to be more interested in the weather and happily look forward to your updates. They are so clear and concise—easy to comprehend. Thank you for your diligent work in keeping us informed!

  16. Thank you for all your guidance and hard work. Having you and Matt helping us understand the weather is a plus for Houston. Just make sure that Matt does’t plan on babies for the next storm!

  17. Thank you Eric for flying solo and keeping us informed. Space City Weather is the only weather I follow. Fantastic job..get some rest!

  18. Thank you for your continued vigilance during these storms. You are the baseline for my decisions during these times. What you do is incredibly helpful in a world of news that is more interested in keeping viewers than giving good information. Thank you.

  19. Good Job Eric. Don’t sweat the haters too much. People are just bored at home, stressed about the pandemic and election and whining on the internet alleviates some of that frustration. Go get some sleep.

  20. Great work, Eric! I have definite weather-related anxiety since flooding during Harvey and the messages y’all put out are direct, informative, and alleviate the complete frustration I have with local media. My family and I appreciate you and Matt so very much. Now, go get some needed rest and pat yourself on the back for another job well done with managing all things Beta!

  21. SCW was cited as a credible source, and lots of quotes from Eric, in today’s Houston Chronicle. It’s the first time I’ve noticed that. It’s about time.

  22. I initially misread this “I missed Matt: Matt’s wife delivered a son early on Sunday night” as “I missed Matt: My wife delivered a son early on Sunday night” and thought wow, what a dedicated guy!

  23. Thank you for your dedication. It is so reassuring to receive practical no-hype information that I can rely on during stormy times and everyday as well. I appreciate the level of detail expressed in terms I can understand. Y’all are great!

  24. You guys rock! Like every weather event for the past couple of years that has occurred the folks in my office all say the same thing when the stress hits…”what do those Space City guys say” or “any updates from the Space guys”. Love it. I’ve turned everyone I know onto your site and they always let me know how they’ve made your site the go-to place when they need to know what is really going on. They don’t need Jim Cantore in a kayak for 4 inches of rain.

  25. Thank you Eric! You have done an amazing job keeping us informed during all of this. You have given me and others a real sense of security. I know that I can count on you both to give me the straight weather and I don’t worry unless you do! You guys are the best!!!

  26. The creek near me that overflowed during Harvey and put my neighborhood underwater, was at that time surrounded by trees and fields. Since Harvey, the trees have been knocked down and in the place of the green, there are now houses. Yesterday’s rain (in Cypress, not even the SE) brought the water close to the banks. I’m afraid that things will now be worse for my neighborhood in an overflow event, especially since those houses are build raised up which will push the water toward the older houses that didn’t used to flood at all. As long as we continue to build on flood plains, our situation will only get worse.

  27. Thank you for the hard work, insight & information you all share- y’all are my favorite & best source for weather! Keep up the great work 👍

  28. Matt and Eric – I think it is safe to say that for every comment left here thanking you guys, there are 100’s or 1000’s of additional people who appreciate the valuable service you provide. Thank you.

  29. Thank you Eric, for this coverage, and the Laura coverage too. Congrats to Matt and family, happy to see that 9/24 is tomorrow, and will be buying SCW swag in November.

    When I was house hunting back in the late 90’s, anything less than Flood Zone designation X was a deal breaker. I seem to have chosen well, but given the increases in both development and storm intensity, nothing is guaranteed. If I have a chance to build a house I think I may put it on stilts.

  30. Thanks for all the updates Eric and Matt. Matt, congratulations on the family addition. Having you guys explaining in detail and keeping it hype free eases my PTSD reactions from Harvey. No flooding in my neighborhood in SL; however, I still woke up several times during the night to check for flooding.

  31. Thank you so much for your analysis and for placing all the information in context. I’ve especially appreciated knowIng what the possibilities are, even when you have low confidence in them.

    Also greatly appreciate knowing 1.) there will be more posts that day and 2.) when those will be up.

  32. City saying YES to any and all developers of everything is the problem. My neighborhood has 3 apartment complexes going up in a 5 block radius with zero additional ditches, gutters or drainage being implemented. Just concrete.

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