Posted by Matt Lanza at 11:59 AM
Yesterday’s thunderstorm activity probably came as a bit of a surprise to many of us, not so much because they happened but because of how potent they were. We saw a few reports of hail and wind damage around the region. And some incredible sky pictures.
Our Friday forecast suggested the most activity would be east of US-59 on Saturday, and it was, but I’d be lying if I told you I was expecting the potency that it came with. So why did it happen?
A confluence of factors led to a busy Saturday evening. Storms early in the day in western Louisiana and eastern Texas likely produced some boundaries in the atmosphere, and with winds directing weather in the less common northeast to southwest direction, they ended up moving our way. We probably saw cold air aloft, necessary to help regenerate storms as they moved across southeast Texas. We had sea breeze interaction with some of those boundaries also. There was decent jet stream and upper level support in the northeast flow that helped add extra support. Then, it also hit 94° at IAH, so you had plenty of instability. All these factors came together just right, and we ended up exceeding most people’s expectations, including my own.
So that begs the question: Will we do it again today?
Posted by Matt Lanza at 11:24 AM
Not long after our morning update on Friday, the National Hurricane went full steam ahead and declared the disturbance near the Yucatan Peninsula to be (Sub)tropical Storm Alberto (more on that in a moment). For us in Houston, this is of *no* concern. We remain with a hot and mostly dry forecast. But if you have friends and family east of here or know folks visiting there for the holiday weekend, we wanted to provide a quick update.
Alberto has maximum sustained winds of 40 mph, making it a lower-end tropical storm. Looking at a satellite loop, you can see Alberto is far from the most aesthetically pleasing tropical system we’ve ever seen.
Subtropical Storm Alberto late Saturday morning has a center in there somewhere, well displaced from the majority of the thunderstorm activity. (College of DuPage)
The center of Alberto is sort of broad in nature and located just off the western tip of Cuba. It may hopscotch its way along over the next 12-24 hours, reforming at times in different places in the southeast Gulf.
Forecast track & intensity
Over the next 24-36 hours, the environment over Alberto is expected to become more hospitable for a tropical storm. Thus, Alberto should strengthen a bit on its trek north. The current forecast from the National Hurricane Center takes Alberto north to between about Gulfport, MS and Panama City Beach, FL, with a possible landfall by Monday night or early Tuesday.
The National Hurricane Center forecast has Alberto approaching the central or eastern Gulf Coast by Monday night as a moderate to strong tropical storm. (NOAA/NHC)
While the NHC track is fine, some forecast modeling shows Alberto taking a more erratic path as it approaches the eastern Gulf, possibly shifting a couple hundred miles east or west. Thus, tropical storm watches cover a pretty broad chunk of the coast, between far eastern Louisiana and the New Orleans area to just south of Tallahassee on the Florida Panhandle. The Tampa area is also under a watch. Tropical storm watches mean tropical storm conditions are possible within the next 48 hours.