Frank's Weather or Not: El Niño is back just in time for the Rodeo

By Frank Billingsley - Chief Meteorologist

Artfully decorated boots are displayed in this image released by the Houston Rodeo on Feb. 13, 2019.

El Niño, that phenomenon of warmer Pacific Ocean water, is back and looks to be here the next few months with a decrease in strength as prime Hurricane Season arrives (Aug-Oct).

You can see the current measurement in this graphic where "red and orange" at the equator equals warm water. It's not terribly strong.

There is also warmer water along the Mexico coast and, in case you haven't noticed, we've had plenty of rain in January (4") and February (below normal amounts, mostly mist and fog). That warmer water creates warmer, rising moist air which moves into Texas and produces these dreary days. In fact, tomorrow through the end of the week is going to seem more like Seattle than Houston.

A little El Niño goes a long way--we can handle the rain we've had and, in fact, it also produces stronger winds across Central America, which tend to inhibit tropical growth in the Caribbean. Not a bad thing. Here is the forecast for our current El Niño:

U.S: Government

El Niño forecast

What you see here is the current Anomaly which is 1°C above Normal. The forecast generally supports a slight cooling as the year continues (the red line is the consensus of the models, which is what I always follow.

So based solely on this forecast, I think a wetter than normal spring is likely with an average tropical season in the Atlantic. If you consider the El Niño of 2015-2016, when we experienced the Memorial Day and Tax Day flooding, I'm relieved that we are not seeing a huge El Niño forecast. Take a look at just how warm the Pacific was at the end of 2015:

U.S: Government

El Niño almost 4 years ago

A lot of red at the Equator. And a lot of extreme weather all over the globe.


Rodeo Uncorked popped it open last night! Hundreds of wineries and food samples showed off their fare and thousands of people showed up for it. A great way to begin the Rodeo festivities:

Frank Billingsley

Rodeo Uncorked!

Frank Billingsley

We went early and stayed late!

That's our group above and thanks to Angela Hernandez for inviting us! I wish I could promise sunnier trail riding weather, but right now rain chances the rest of the week and chilly temps are about all I can muster. There is chance the Rodeo Parade on Saturday gets slotted during a dry out, but no promises!


Finally, we spent Saturday with family members, first at the new Perry's on West Gray which is stunning. That's a surprise gift of Schnapp's Goldschlagger--a funny tribute to the gold nanoparticles I had infused to fight my cancer (and which so far have worked!). And then we gathered at Brasserie 19 to discuss the May wedding! I'm officiating. 

Frank Billingsley

Love the goldschlager!

The Brasserie Bunch!

The happy couple is behind me. Did I mention it's an outdoor wedding?! I'm already nervous and not about the officiating part! Wednesday we'll check out how our GFS, FV3 and EURO models did forecasting tomorrow's rain last Friday. In the meantime, enjoy President's Day today!


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