Posted by Matt Lanza at 10:00 AM
During Hurricane Harvey, I think we did a good job making pretty clear that our focus was to be on flooding. And ultimately, the majority of the damage and devastation wrought by Harvey as it moved through our region came via water. But one of the most surprising and occasionally unsettling aspects about Harvey’s impacts on Southeast Texas were the tornadoes. The warnings came fast, they came furious, and a number of them were confirmed.
The fine folks over at U.S. Tornadoes put together a really nice summary of this event, which likely ranks Harvey close to or in the top ten for most prolific tornado-producing tropical systems in the United States.
The Houston National Weather Service forecast office issued over 150 warnings for tornadoes through the storm. During that hellacious Saturday night and Sunday morning, over 30 tornado warnings were issued, most of them overlapping with flash flood warnings. We strongly encouraged people to keep their phone alerts on that night because the frequency of tornadoes was almost shocking (and because of numerous videos of an actual tornado in northwest Harris County late that Saturday afternoon that sort of drove home the point). That, coupled with the flooding likely lead to a long, sleepless night for many in the area. I’ll have some comments about the phone alerting issue at the end of the post.
The early tornadoes
First, let’s recap some of the tornadoes that actually occurred. The NWS Houston office has confirmed nearly 30 tornadoes as of September 14th, all of them either EF-0 or EF-1 strength. Here’s a look at some of the tornadoes.
Posted by Matt Lanza at 6:35 AM
Good morning, and welcome to another Friday. Before we get into the forecast, I wanted to bring your attention to an event that was held yesterday at Rice University. “Flooding, water reuse and resource recovery: Trends and opportunities” was held at the Baker Institute at Rice. They were planning to discuss water use issues initially. But post-Harvey, they put together a good panel including Jeff Lindner, Harris County’s Flood Control meteorologist to discuss Harvey and some of the issues around flooding. I encourage you to watch the presentations, which can be accessed from the event web page. After the three presentations, there was a Q&A period. This is one of many conversations that will need to continue in the wake of Harvey.
One other quick note. I’ll have a long post later this morning that will recap the incredible tornado outbreak that accompanied Hurricane Harvey here in the Houston area. So far, the National Weather Service has confirmed 29 tornadoes in the Houston area. We’ll drill into some of the bigger ones and ones we have damage pictures from. Look for that around 10 AM.
On to the forecast…
Friday & Weekend
This weekend should be fairly straightforward. We should be dry once again today. We hit the low 90s on Thursday, and we’ll probably hit that or exceed it again today. Aside from the heat and humidity, it will be sunny.
For Saturday and Sunday, not a ton of change, but there will be some subtleties. Precipitable water values will edge upwards from just over an inch today and Saturday to around 1.5″ to 1.75″ on Sunday. Don’t worry, that is not abnormal for this time of year. It does mean that we should see at least a few showers and perhaps isolated thunderstorms around each afternoon, particularly on Sunday. Another don’t worry moment: The rains won’t be widespread, and they shouldn’t be too heavy either (and many areas will stay dry). But don’t be shocked or alarmed if you see some showers around this weekend.
Posted by Matt Lanza at 6:21 AM
Admittedly, it was probably too good to be true to think we could get through September with completely pleasant weather. The weather pattern over most of the United States is actually going to make a pretty significant shift from where it’s been since early August. This means typical late summer weather for Texas. On to the details.
Today & Friday
While both today and tomorrow will be on the hotter side, it will actually be rather nice still. Yes, there will still be some haze around unfortunately. But it will be mainly sunny, with fewer clouds today, and we’ll keep that up into Friday. High temps will peak in the lower 90s, with morning lows in the lower or middle 70s. Rain chances are near zero both days.
Expect similar temperatures this weekend, with highs in the lower 90s and nighttime lows more in the mid-70s perhaps. The warmer nights are courtesy of increased humidity, which will also signal our first chance of showers this month. Yesterday was our 14th straight day without rain. Given Harvey, you couldn’t script that any better, but of course it will still eventually rain again in Houston.
Rain totals through Monday morning should be spotty and minor. (NWS/Weather Bell)
Rain totals this weekend should be extremely modest, a tenth to a quarter inch on average. Many of us won’t see any rain at all. The better chance of the two days will be Sunday.
Posted by Matt Lanza at 6:27 AM
On the local front: All remains calm and quiet. We continue to see optimal weather to help us dry out and continue picking up the pieces after Harvey. This weather will last well into next week. Either later this weekend or on Monday, we’ll probably have to talk a bit about some potentially hotter temperatures by mid to late next week. In the meantime, the weather looks delightful for September in Texas through the weekend. Otherwise, the eyes of the weather world are focused on Irma (and also Jose, which is taking an unfortunate track near the Caribbean). Let’s start with the latest on Irma.
In the last 18 hours or so, Irma has been undergoing some internal reshuffling (in meteorology speak, an eyewall replacement cycle and probably some land interactions) that has caused its maximum wind speeds to drop a bit. It’s now a category four storm with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph. This is actually quite common for storms of Irma’s character. What’s been so uncommon about Irma has been its reluctance to see any fluctuations in intensity until just recently. So for all intents and purposes, Irma is now behaving like a typical high-end, major hurricane.
Irma continues to present a near-perfect appearance on satellite. This is a healthy hurricane. (NOAA)
Irma is currently west of the Turks and Caicos Islands and just north of Baracoa and Guantanamo, Cuba. It continues to move north of due west and should just graze the coast of Cuba today.
Hurricane and storm surge watches and warnings have been posted for most of South Florida.