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What to know about the chance for winter weather in the Houston area this weekend

Snow is possible this weekend, but getting it in Houston will be a tall order!
Snow is possible this weekend, but getting it in Houston will be a tall order!

The idea of a winter Sunday snow-prise is all the buzz right now and so let’s start with just how we end up getting snow, sleet, freezing rain and plain, cold rain.

This time of year, way up in the atmosphere, all the precipitation falls as snow. It’s a matter of whether it melts before reaching the ground! Here’s a handy explanation:

January precip all begins as snow!
January precip all begins as snow!

You can see that if snow makes it all the way to the ground then it encounters no wedge of warm air and stays as snow. A little warm air provides sleet or a wintry mix. More warm air will turn the snow to rain which may refreeze at the surface (think bridges and overpasses especially) which is freezing rain, or ice. Enough warm air and all the snow melts and just fall as rain.

So which is most likely?

Obviously, the farther north from Houston has the best chance for actual snow because it will be colder. Our air from the ground up will be on the chilly side and could support snow or sleet (32°) while the ground surface temperatures will be warmer than freezing, meaning any winter precip would melt as soon as it reached the earth (but still might be fun to see).

So we turn to the models. Here they are below, the American Model is not very bullish on snow/sleet in Houston, while the Euro is a little more interested in that idea and the Canadian model agrees with the Euro. Watch below for the blue (snow) and pinks (sleet):

Snow stays north
Snow stays north
Euro supports a wintry mix west and north of Houston
Euro supports a wintry mix west and north of Houston
Canadian Model supports snow/sleet west and north of Houston
Canadian Model supports snow/sleet west and north of Houston

That’s the model output right now and it will change, as it always does.

How much snow?

But, if it snows, just how much? Could be a significant amount. The American, where it does put snow, has a 1-2″ forecast across the Sabine River:

Snow depth Forecast for Sunday
Snow depth Forecast for Sunday

The Euro has even more and closer to Houston (the Canadian is in line with this):

2-4" snow north and west
2-4" snow north and west

It’s only Wednesday and we have a few days to monitor the snow-tuation, so stay tuned. But don’t get the sled out just yet.

Frank

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