More rain and storms coming!
Something we haven’t heard in a while boomed across the area Sunday morning---thunder! Storms rolled through producing heavy downpours and damaging winds. Brace yourself for more both tomorrow morning and again Wednesday morning! Tuesday’s storms are ahead of a cold front coming our way and Wednesday’s storms will arrive with the front itself. Here’s Wednesday’s surface analysis:
Dust can bust a hurricane forecast
The above NOAA pic of the Atlantic Ocean skies full of Saharan dust is from 2006 and you can imagine that any tropical showers and storms would have a zero percent chance of forming in that kind of atmosphere. Those dusty skies are dry for one thing and particulates are falling downward toward Earth, suppressing any upward motion required to get tropical storms to build.
Introducing the “Modelcane”
Last Wednesday, all the Media-rology lit up with a potential Category 4 hurricane in the Gulf (headed toward Texas, no less) just in time for Memorial Day weekend. The cover shot today shows what was going around. This was a forecast from the American model a good two weeks out. We call these hurricanes from the model a “modelcane” and I’ll explain what’s going on in a moment. Suffice it to say that, first of all, there has never been a major hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico in May, so that would be highly unusual, and second, never trust a model more than a week out, especially for tropical systems that develop in the Caribbean’s west end. Trust me, things will change.
The Gulf is ready for action
As I write this and check my pool water, it’s an amazing 88°! Totally ready for swimming, but the pool is a shallow body of water and easy to heat up when we’re having record heat! The Gulf of Mexico water is still hovering in the upper 70s to low 80s near shore, but 80° is that magical threshold where the water is warm enough to sustain tropical storms and hurricanes. And that number, which calculates to 26° Celsius, is abundant and even higher goes to 28°C right now:
Dripping and dipping!
We know Houston gets hot, but even the most stalwart may be feeling like a duck out of water these days! Why is it so hot? We have in place what is called an omega blocking pattern -- low pressure on either side of the country with a big High in the middle. That high produces the relentlessly dry, sunny, hot days and blocks any front from moving through which might cool us down. Here’s the pattern and below I’ve drawn in the Greek letter omega so you get an idea of that resemblance:
The “I”s have it
You may have heard that last week the World Meteorological Organization retired the hurricane name “IDA”, a decision based on the death and destruction the storm caused in both Louisiana and New York. Whenever I speak, the question comes up of how the names are chosen in the first place and the answer is that they are chosen to reflect the different nationalities that Atlantic basin storms can affect and so there are American, French, Spanish, Dutch and English names. I have written the WMO before suggesting that the names should be more reflective of all the people living in such countries--we are a very diverse people these days! So I was pleased to see the name IDA replaced with IMANI, a name of Arabic origin meaning “faith.” There are six hurricane name lists that rotate so you will see some new names and some familiar ones every six years! Here is the 2022 list:
Where will the hurricanes go?
Every year the seasonal hurricane forecasts start rolling in during April and this year they are all pointing to another busy season! An average season brings 14 storms of which 7 become hurricanes and 3 become major. This coming season looks to be above that average with as many as 20 storms and 5 major hurricanes, depending on who you ask. Here are some of the recent forecasts:
When the tornado warning fails
I’ve written recently about the 1992 Channelview tornado outbreak when, fortunately, not a life was lost. The best we could do then to warn the public was break into live TV. By the time we received a warning from the National Weather Service and typed that warning into a crawl machine and then put it on air a good twenty minutes would pass. But those were the two warning methods for television along with NOAA weather radio. So we’ve come a long way. But not far enough.
Will Hurricane Season ever be “normal” again?
Last week at the National Tropical Weather Conference, Dr. Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University presented his 2022 Tropical Storm forecast. Accuweather had delivered theirs just a few days before. And while some headlines screamed “Monster season” most went with “busy” or “above normal”. You might remember that ‘normal’ recently increased from 12 storms to 14 and the considered average now is 14 tropical storms of which 7 will become hurricanes and 3 of those will become Major hurricanes of Category 3, 4 or 5. I made a chart of the two forecasts so far:
April’s cool sky, not a fool’s sky!
There’s a lot going on in our April sky, especially for you early risers. The fortunate part is that while we are likely to see at least a day of rain each week, forecasts are calling for mostly dry skies (at least through the middle of the month). That means these comfortable walking temperatures and clear morning canvases will continue!
Where is Tornado Alley now?
For decades we’ve heard of Tornado Alley, running from North Texas across Oklahoma and Kansas across the corn belt to Minnesota. The central United States is where, geographically, warm and moist Gulf air has met cold air off the Rockies to set up the perfect tornado recipe: warm air below, cold air above, spinning winds from several directions at the surface of the Earth with faster winds above. That recipe more and more is moving East. Already this morning (around 4:20 a.m.) a destructive tornado tore through Springfield, Arkansas. Here’s ExactTrack radar:
Tornado Season and Safety
Here’s a personal story: when working for KTRK (ABC) back in the day, I was offered a two week stint to fill in for Spencer Christian on Good Morning, America. This was in November 1992, which is a ratings month, and station’s around the country would not let their Chief Meteorologists off to fill in--but I was the weekend guy! I jumped at the chance and after two weeks I was scheduled to fly home Saturday afternoon to be back in time for my evening newscasts.
Time to change??
The Twitter-verse lit up yesterday with the #1 trending topic being the permanent switch to keeping Daylight Saving Time. No falling back. Unanimous senate approval is now ready for the House and, perhaps, ultimately President Biden’s signature. Known as the Sunshine Act, if this goes through we’ll never change our clocks again.
Honey, I’m here (forever)!
Two years ago I went through the educational experience of finding a bee hive in my fence! I learned how bees follow their queen, set up shop, stay as long as you let them AND if you call a company like 3 Bee Guys they will safely remove them and take them to their bee farm. That certainly took the sting out of the event.
Going forward an hour with ease
Springing forward and falling backward seems to be a no win--in the fall we are happy to set clocks back an hour for that extra hour of sleep, but not happy with earlier dark skies. In spring, when we happily get that daylight back by setting clocks an hour forward, we complain that we lose an hour of sleep!
Is that Fog or a bottle of water?
Anyone on the Texas Water Board will tell you that water per barrel easily matches the cost of oil--in some cases, it’s worth more. Water shortages are common around the world and the U.S. and even now in Texas the latest drought monitor shows that 93% of our state is in some sort of drought, from abnormally dry to extreme:
Early peek at spring break week
Just in time for an extra hour of daylight, spring break across most of Houston begins this weekend. Right now, and this is very extended, it looks like we’ll have pretty nice weather although this weekend kicks off with a rain chance Friday and a big cool down Saturday. Here’s the American model forecast for THIS FRIDAY:
Small droplets, Big colors!
Today’s cover photo is a beautiful example of what you might call a ‘rainbow in the clouds.’ In fact, this phenomenon goes by the term “cloud iridescence” or “irisation”, named after the Greek goddess, Iris, goddess of the rainbows! Obviously, showing the same colors, it’s easy to think of these as rainbows although they don’t arch and they don’t form following a rain shower. Here’s another example from Click2pins taken just the other day:
Water Aware: Watch those Rips!
As travel quickly resumes to normal, I can only imagine the crowds coming to the beaches for Spring Break. With good reason, the NWS has declared this week Rip Current and Beach Hazard Awareness Week. Last year, one rip current death occurred along Texas shores with as many as 76 nationwide.
February out, March in!
After a couple of cold snaps, February is just about done. The National Weather Service Houston put out a bit of climate data this morning showing the month fell well below normal for average temperatures (taking highs and lows and averaging them). Generally, about six degrees below for inland stations:
Snow Bubbles--a mystery!
Given the arctic cold snap in parts of Texas right now (12° in Amarillo as I write this!), a recent viewer message with the above picture arrived in my Instagram yesterday. Olson writes “My sister lives in northeastern Montana and it is -30 there. These bubbles in the snow happened between this morning and this afternoon and she has never seen anything like that before....she went out and poked them and they are hollow. Any ideas?”
Trail Rider Weather!
Trail Riders can tell you with certainty: the trail riding weather is always uncertain! I admire all those thousands of men, women and children honoring the days past making their way to Memorial Park this Friday to celebrate rodeo! Many of them use their hard-earned vacation just to be a part of the ride and they never complain about the weather. No matter what, they make the journey!
A report just released from NASA, NOAA, and other agencies predicts that coastal sea levels will rise a foot by 2050 but we may get there on the Texas coast faster than that! Forecasting a significant increase in coastal flooding to the end of this century and beyond, the report includes interactive tools so that us regular folks can drill down a bit to our own areas to find out just what kind of sea level rises are really predicted. For the Texas coast, there is honestly not much comfort. For instance, Galveston by just the end of this decade, 2030, could see a tidal increase of a full foot, or .32 meters:
More heat = more water
One year ago today, as we all remember, turned out to be one miserable, cold day with temperatures ranging from 1° in Huntsville to 13° in Houston to 20° in Galveston. I’ve talked before about that kind of arctic blast being ‘generational’ or something we can expect every thirty years. For climate study, thirty years is a good benchmark to get an indication of how the climate is changing (or not changing, for that matter). Climate Central has just published a study comparing average precipitation from 1981-2010 and 1991-2020. Granted there is an overlap there, but interesting to note how much more precipitation (in green) is being recorded across our part of Texas to the north and northeast, while southwest and western areas are seeing less (in brown). Take a look at this map.
Perfect Valentine’s Day to horse around!
With highs near 70° and plenty of sunshine, you couldn’t ask for love-lier weather on this Valentine’s Day! For us, the middle of February is often a ‘big change’ month as we begin to move toward spring. Meteorologically speaking, winter is December-January-February and so we’re almost to the end of winter! That battle between cold and warm can spark strong storms (like this Wednesday quite possibly). Just look at the variations we’ve seen for Valentine’s Day:
Don’t forget! Tips on how to protect your pipes and sprinklers from the freezing weather
As this arctic blast rolls through the Houston area, residents are working hard to get ready for whatever comes their way. While knocking off those checklists, we want to provide tips to keep those homes in working condition. Take care of your pipes and sprinklers. It could save you lots of money in costly repairs later.
A Foggy Groundhog Morning
I guess this is a case of “pick your groundhog” for today as any furry forecaster in Houston faced a foggy morning: so no shadow means an early spring! On the other hand, the more famous and fawned over Punxsutawney Phil DID see his shadow in the early Pennsylvania morning declaring six more weeks of winter. If you don’t recall, that shadow tells Phil to get back in his hovel and prepare for more cold.
Cold snap coming!
Rain today and a big warm up through Wednesday! Then a cold front comes through with at least some threat of wintry precipitation although that’s looking less likely this far south. Despite that, the cold air behind the front pours in with a huge High Pressure system building behind it funneling cold air from the Rockies. Notice the High measures 1040mb which means the air is very heavy--why heavy? Because cold air sinks and warm air rises--so to record that high of surface pressure the air has to be pretty chilly!
Climate Change: It’s not for the birds
The world has changed since 1930, in so many ways...there are a lot more of us, we’re using a lot more land, and the world temperature is up by almost 2-degrees Fahrenheit. You may not think about it but birds, certainly the birds, are affected. But just how much has been a perplexing question. Birds always seem to be there. We all know birds “fly south” for the winter, but are they having to come as far south in a warming world? And, if not, is where they are migrating a suitable habitat? The Audubon Society released an interesting study about bird migration. Consider this beautiful bird, the white-breasted nuthatch:
Messy Monday Coming!
I know what you’re thinking: It’s Friday, just let me get through the cold weekend in peace without worrying about my start to the work week! I get it. Our current cold snap continues snapping right through tomorrow and Sunday as lows drop to the upper 20 and low 30s tomorrow morning and 30s Sunday. Wind Chills, even with light 5mph winds, will make the mornings feel even colder. Here’s my 10 Day forecast:
Winter takes a bite
As much as we’ve staved off Jack Frost this year, the next few days will bring a winter chill to southeast Texas. Of course, we’ll be forecasting about the approaching cold front today bringing a severe weather threat later this afternoon and evening. After that front passes, the cold dives in and any precipitation coming from the southwest could bring winter woes. This is NOT a last February arctic outbreak! But any glazing can be dangerous and South Central Texas has issued a Winter Storm Watch from tomorrow morning to evening:
Temperatures continue to soar
Let’s face it: talking about an ever warmer world is not very sexy and we hear it so much that we’re getting used to it. That, of course, is the wrong road to take as we’re better off accepting the facts and moving forward toward solutions. Last year soared to #4 in the record books for hottest on record in the United States, but consider this: December was THE hottest December on record and summer was THE hottest on record (Houston barely reached 100° but you’ll recall all those searing days in the Northwest).
A-B-C before June 1!?
Houston, TX Here we are the end of May with the official beginning of hurricane season on Monday and weve already had two named storms--Arthur and Bertha--with a third possible. The photo above is Cristobal in 2014 and because the list of hurricane names rotates every six years, that C storm is back on the list. In fact, only 1951 has recorded three tropical or subtropical systems before June 1st: one in January, followed by Hurricane Able and a tropical depression in May. Well, for starters there were 17 depressions, 12 of those became storms, 8 of which became hurricanes (three major hurricanes). Notably, a January start will make for a long year and the 1951 season didnt end until December 11th!
The backup plan for SpaceX
On Sunday, Jan. 19, an eight-minute test took place, one all-important test to make sure that if SpaceX should need to abort after launch then the crew could safely make it back down to Earth. credit SpaceXThe capsule, pictured below, fell perfectly and safely to the ocean water. Watch that first as its very interesting and helpful when understanding what really took place. As of this writing the launch itself is at a 60% chance of happening as the sky really needs to be rain- and cloud-free. But its comforting to know that if things do go awry during the launch, there is an emergency plan.
Get ready: Busy hurricane season now official
The NHC anticipates a 60% chance for an ABOVE-normal season, a 30% chance for an AVERAGE season, and a 10% chance for a BELOW-normal season. Water is the fuel for hurricanes in that warm water creates warm air and that warm air rises into the atmosphere creating showers and thunderstorms. Above Normal Water water temps in the Gulf, Caribbean and Atlantic. Courtesy tropicaltidbitsBut if that rising air is disrupted by the wind then, of course, the storms wont form. And when you already have storms moving over the ocean you bypass that first step of rising air to create the storms to form a hurricane!
NOAA: A warmer world is making hurricanes stronger
This week, with near-record highs every day, it might seem like were always talking about a warmer world -- and we are. This year is now expected to be in the top five warmest years for the world and were not even halfway through it! Scientifically, in a warmer world, it only stands to reason that the fuel for hurricanes, which is warmer water, will create stronger storms -- and it is. Last Monday, a study of 40 years of data was released examining satellite information to determine stronger hurricanes over the period, in line with yearly warmer temperatures. and his paper in 2018 proposed that hurricanes are slower-moving over land due to a warmer world thereby causing more flooding (e.g.
Does an early start to hurricane season mean anything?
Tropical Storm Arthur said hello over the weekend, starting our hurricane season -- once again -- before the official June 1 date. So there are two obvious questions:Does an early start mean well have a shorter season? In 2003, we had an April system show up and the season didnt end that year until December 11th. Hurricane Jerry October 1989, our latest hurricane to strike the Texas coastDoes an early start mean well have more hurricanes? What can we learn from an early start?
Here are all of the models we are looking at for Saturdays storm
Houston, TX Models for tomorrows flooding are updating and I wanted to share with you some of what we are looking at here at the KPRC2 Severe Weather Center. First, we always like to compare the Euro and American models and I can tell you that while the Euro does have a good reputation for more accuracy, the two are both strong. In fact, the Euro USES American satellite information so without the American influx of data, the Euro wouldnt be where it is. The RPM has only 1-2 of rain for Houston with perhaps 2-3 in spots with more down south:RPMThe HRRR on the other hand shows heavy rain south of I-10 and into downtown. If we do not see heavy rain in southeast Texas then consider ourselves plain lucky.
How coronavirus is affecting the weather forecast
HOUSTON Ive written before about the role of airplanes taking and reporting weather observations as they ascend and descend, as well as at flight altitude. Known as the AMDAR program, these commercial aircraft flights traditionally produce 700,000 observations a day (temperature, humidity, and wind). With stay home orders around the globe, there are weather offices with no weather person to physically read and report the data! In addition, the WMO notes that over time even automatic stations will need repair and calibration, so we may see more data dropping out in the next weeks or months. Still, and thankfully, there are a LOT of ways to observe the weather these days.
Hurricanes 2020: Forecasters are looking at 4 major hurricanes that could impact the United States this year
Houston, TX The coronavirus clearly dominates the headlines, but, over the next few weeks, different forecasts for the Atlantic 2020 Hurricane Season will be edging into our news cycle. Normal count is for 12 tropical storms and of those 6 become hurricanes with 3 becoming major hurricanes. ACCUWEATHER published their forecast this week calling for not only a higher than normal number but also adds the number of impacts to the United States. You can read the full Accuweather hurricane forecast right here. Ive also talked about Dale Links forecast which doesnt predict number of hurricanes but rather where theyll go.