HOUSTON -

The brisk north wind, hard freeze warnings and images of frozen fountains are history. Temperatures are on a slow, steady climb to 70 degrees by Friday and the atmosphere is gathering moisture and ready to spread showers across the region.

The weather pattern shift comes as a ridge of high pressure passes into the southeastern U.S. and initiates a strong southeast wind flow for southeast Texas. The wind off the Gulf not only warms us, but it pushes moisture and humidity into the region.

The result: temperatures will climb into the 50s Wednesday, 60s Thursday, and low 70s Friday.

As for rain, expect a 30 percent chance for scattered showers on Wednesday and Thursday, especially west of Houston. These showers will stem strictly from weak instability associated with the onshore wind flow and should remain quite light and widely scattered. You probably won't need an umbrella, but take one with you these days just to be safe.

By Friday, however, a more organized upper level low pressure system and an associated Pacific cold front will create more widespread rain that could add up to about .25 inch in Houston, so carrying an umbrella then would be a very smart choice.  Based on the current forecast, Friday's rain will begin by mid to late afternoon and continue through Friday evening.  A few leftover showers may linger into early Saturday morning, but the rain will pass east of Houston quickly as the weekend gets under way. That leaves quiet, dry and mild weather for the vast majority of the weekend.