Monday's record heat may be harbinger of warm spring season

Long-range forecast calls for continued above-normal temperatures, below-normal rain

By Eric Braate - Weather Executive Producer
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HOUSTON - We reached record highs Monday at Bush Intercontinental Airport, Hobby Airport and in College Station with highs of 90, 89 and 88 degrees, respectively.  Galveston posted a 78-degree high, just 2 degrees shy of its record.

The heat wave was short-lived, as temperatures fell back about 10 degrees Tuesday afternoon.  However, Monday's weather may be something we need to get used to as the spring season ramps up.

The Climate Prediction Center (CPC) is forecasting above normal temperatures for most of the nation, including Texas, through June.  It's also predicting dry conditions right here at home, which, combined with the heat could result in a worsening drought for Houston and the rest of the state.

Southeast Texas has been slowly, steadily getting more dry since September.  While we've benefited from periodic soaking rains, the wet weather has been neither often enough nor heavy enough to measure up to normal levels.  As a result, parts of the region are slipping back into a moderate to severe drought.  The U.S. Drought Monitor shows that the driest part of the region is west and north of Houston.  To the south, Brazoria County is also officially back in a drought.

In the past couple of years, we slip in and out of official drought status in sync with our cyclical, short-term wet and dry spells.  However, the longer-term trends are more consistent and more troubling.  Based on National Weather Service Data, the last year that Houston (Intercontinental Airport) recorded annual rainfall above average was 2008.  Since then we've been drier than normal on an annual basis, with 2011 being the driest.  That year, we only got half of our normal rainfall and suffered an exceptionally devastating drought.

Long-term temperature trends show that our unusual warmth may be with us for awhile, too.  Data show that in eight of the past 10 years we've been warmer than normal in Houston.  And, considering the correlation that links unusually dry weather with unusually warm weather, 2013 will probably be another warm, dry year for us.

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