It is a very cold morning across parts of the state. The good news is temperatures will rebound quite nicely this afternoon. Skies will remain mostly clear through the day. Clouds will be on the increase tonight across the Texas Panhandle into Northwest Texas as a storm system begins its approach. Moisture levels will be too low for anything more than a few sprinkles on Friday Night. Temperatures this afternoon will peak around their averages for early February. Nothing too cold and nothing exceptionally warm. There may be a slight wind chill – especially across the Texas Panhandle.
Tonight will be a few degrees warmer compared to this morning across the western half of Texas. Meanwhile Northeast Texas and East Texas will actually be colder. Temperatures statewide will range from the lower 20s to right around 40 degrees. Cloud cover will be on the increase across the Panhandle, Northwest Texas, into West-Central Texas tonight.
A Couple Strong to Marginally Severe Storms Possible Friday Evening in East & Southeast Texas
We’ll start out looking at the Storm Prediction Center’s outlook for tomorrow. After that I’ll discuss some of the aspects of tomorrow’s setup. Unlike the December 26th setup we’re not going to be dealing with a spring-like system. Tomorrow will be much more tame and in line with what we expect in the winter months. A marginal risk of severe weather has been issued for East Texas, Southeast Texas, and part of the Brazos Valley. On a five level risk system tomorrow’s setup is at a level one – the lowest risk. Tyler, B/CS, Houston, Lufkin, Pittsburg, and Port Arthur are a few cities in the risk. Tomorrow’s storm setup is marginal but we could see a few storms become strong to borderline severe. Those stronger storms would likely be hailers with stones up to the size of quarters. Some wind gusts up to 50-60 MPH could also occur. A very low risk of a brief tornado may develop across Southeast Texas. While a brief tornado may occur the overall tornado risk is very low.
Surface dewpoint values from the 12Z 4KM NAM Friday Evening
One factor limiting the severe weather threat on Friday will be limited moisture return. As is common for the winter months moisture levels will be on the low-end for a severe weather threat. Dewpoint values along the coast and in Southeast Texas should be in the low to mid 60s by dinnertime Friday. Further north into East and Northeast Texas dewpoint values will range from 54 to 58 degrees. I like to see values over 60 degrees for more organized severe thunderstorms during the cool season. In the spring and summer months you ideally want to see dewpoints above 65 degrees for significant, surface-based supercell potential. The depth of the moisture coming in from the northwest Gulf will also limit the severe weather potential. We’ll keep an eye on things along the coast and just inland across Southeast Texas as that is where moisture levels will be highest tomorrow evening.
Potential Instability Levels around 9 PM Friday
Even though moisture levels will be limited there will be some instability elevated above the surface across East Texas. That instablity will likely be above a stable layer of air near the surface. A couple strong elevated storms would be possible in that enviornment with hail the threat. The threat for damaging winds and tornadoes is extremely low with elevated storms.
Rain amounts up to 0.75″ will be possible across Northeast Texas, East Texas, and Southeast Texas. Widespread severe weather is very unlikely but there may be numerous showers and thunderstorms across Northeast Texas, East Texas, and Southeast Texas Friday Evening.
Widespread Rain, Severe Weather, Cold Front and Snow?
It doesn’t take many years of living in Texas to figure out what a mixed bag of weather we’re subjected to throughout the year. It’s like one of those mystery blind bags you get at parties…it feels like you never know what you’re going to get from week to week. That’s what we’re going to discuss in this evening’s blog because this weekend and into the early part of next week is shaping up to be very busy with all types of weather expected across the state. We’ll see widespread rain, a chance for severe weather, a strong cold front and the chance the first snow this season! To make things easier, I’ll break the blog up into sections and discuss each topic one at a time.
The Rain Chances
Another powerful storm system is expected to drop down across the Rockies and into the southwestern US by early Monday. Ahead of and in conjunction with this potent system, pacific moisture and increasing lift will be sweeping across the state from the southwest bringing chances of light rain into the state as early as Saturday with more widespread rain expected to develop by Sunday into early Monday. Rainfall amounts over the weekend are expected to be relatively light, and not everyone will see rain. The rain will begin early Saturday across the southwestern half of the state and move northeast into parts of central Texas by mid-day. At least that’s how it looks right now. As we get into Sunday, the approaching storm system will further aid in generating lift and storms that will further tap into the pacific moisture already in place. At the same time, a surface high will be moving east away from the state which will kick surface winds around from the south to draw additional moisture up from the gulf. This will generate much more widespread rain from west to east across the state through Sunday into early Monday.
The Severe Weather Outlook
While the threat for severe weather looks to be pretty much nonexistent over the weekend, by Monday, we’ll be looking at a chance for strong to severe storms across parts of west central, central and eastern Texas during the afternoon and evenings. Tuesday, we may see that threat continue into the far eastern/southeastern region of the state dependent upon how fast the system moves and what impact a dryline will have as it sets up across west central Texas just ahead of the next cold front. As always, a lot will depend on timing of the system and how much instability is expected to be in place as the best forcing for lift arrives with the upper level system. Right now, the long-range models are showing sufficient instability will be in place by Monday afternoon and again on Tuesday to issue a preliminary outlook. This is in no way a guarantee that we’ll see severe weather…especially when looking at a forecast that is still quite a number of days out. We look at these SPC outlooks as more of a heads-up that conditions will likely have the capability to produce strong storms and we’ll need to keep an eye on this in the days to come. Regardless of whether or not the severe weather materialized, heavy rain will be likely and flooding may return as an issue again across central and eastern Texas.
The Cold Front and…Snow???
Along with the possible threat of severe weather Monday and Tuesday, we’ll have additional widespread rain chances and a strong cold front sweeping in as the upper level system moves over us. A surface low looks to setup over northern Oklahoma which may act to draw moisture from the rain out ahead up and over and around into the panhandle region by early Tuesday. With temperatures expected to be at or near freezing by that time, it’s possible you folks will see your first snow of the season! With temps so warm in the days ahead, the ground will still be much too warm to see much accumulation with any snow that does manage to develop. Again, still too far out to be certain about snow…and because we know you’ll ask…there will NOT be any threat of snow for the Dallas/Ft. Worth area…but we’ll be monitoring this and everything else over the weekend, so be sure to check back each day!
Flash Flood Guidance – How much Rain will it take to cause Flooding?
With the potential for heavy rain and flooding over the coming days I wanted to review a couple of items. The National Weather Service produces a product called flash flood guidance. FFG allows a forecaster or anyone really to see how much rain it would take to cause flooding. There are various parameters such as 1 hour rain, 3 hour rain, and 6 hour rain. Back in May and June most of Texas had FFG values down towards half an inch to one inch meaning that’s how much rain it would take to cause flooding. Its a drastically different picture today with very dry soils across the eastern two-thirds of Texas. It would take over five inches of rain falling in a 6 hour period to cause widespread flash flooding across the eastern half of Texas. That’s not to say urban areas wouldn’t have problems heavy rain.
Once we start seeing soils saturate from rain the flash flood guidance values will become lower. Think of the ground like a sponge. It can absorb plenty of water for a while before becoming totally saturated. Once the sponge is saturated any additional water simply flows right out of it. Soil is similar in that once its saturated water just runs off and you start experiencing flash flooding. The good news is we really do need the rain and it looks like much of Texas is going to get it over the next few days.
Parts of Texas will likely get too much rain. The latest Weather Prediction Center rain forecast for the upcoming event has widespread 3 to 5 inch totals across a majority of Texas with ligher amounts in East Texas. 5 to 7 inch totals are shown across North Texas, parts of Central and South Texas. Various weather models say that localized amounts over 9-10 inches will be possible in those areas. So you see while the ground can take a lot of water – it cannot absorb all of what is being depicted. As it becomes more clear where the heaviest rains will fall I expect Flash Flood watches to be issued. Now is the time to start preparing for the threat of flooding across North Texas, Central Texas, and even parts of South Texas towards the coast. Hopefully we can get through this event without widespread flooding but it looks like we’ll have to deal with localized flooding at least.
After months of expectation and anticipation we can finally say the rain is on the way. An active period of weather across all of Texas is making for busy times. Since all of Texas is expecting rain at some point this week I’ve broken down this blog into rain chances, severe weather potential, flood risk, and the overall temperature trends. As always there is some uncertainty in the forecast so you can expect refinements during the event. All of that said lets get down to it!
Day by Day breakdown on Rain Chances
Chance of rain/storms Today
Chance of rain/storms Tonight
A few coastal showers are possible in Southeast Texas this afternoon. Otherwise we’ll be looking out west for the beginning of our rain event across Texas. Scattered showers and thunderstorms are expected across Far West Texas, the Permian Basin, the South Plains, and the western two-thirds of the Texas Panhandle. By tonight activity will become widespread across the far western Texas and the New Mexico/Texas border in the South Plains into the Texas Panhandle.
Chance of rain/storms Wednesday
Chance of rain/storms Wednesday Night
Scattered showers and storm chances will spread east on Wednesday to include the Concho Valley, Big Country, South-Central Texas, South Texas, and the Rio Grande Valley. Numerous showers and storm chances will continue for the Texas Panhandle and Far West Texas. Widespread activity will continue Wednesday Night across the Texas Panhandle, South Plains, Northwest Texas, Permian Basin, Far West Texas, and Southwest Texas.
Chance of rain/storms Thursday
Chance of rain/storms Thursday Night
Widespread/numerous showers and storms will continue on Thursday across the Texas Panhandle, Northwest Texas, Big Country, Concho Valley, Permian Basin, South PLains, Southwest Texas, and South Texas. Scattered activity is forecast across North Texas, Central Texas, Southeast Texas, and the Rio Grande Valley. Numerous showers/storms will spread east into North Texas, Central Texas, and Southeast Texas in addition to previously mentioned areas Thursday Night.
Chance of rain/storms Friday
Chance of rain/storms Friday Night
Friday is going to be very wet across North Texas, Northeast Texas, East Texas, Southeast Texas, Central Texas, South-Central Texas, the bIg Country, Concho Valley, South Texas, and the Rio Grande Valley. Those rain chances will continue into Friday Night. By Saturday we should start to see activity diminish in coverage west of Interstate 35 – but it does look wet for some of the football games. We’ll detail the rain chances for the weekend once we get closer.
Forecast Rain Totals
The latest rain total forecast through Saturday from the Weather Prediction Center continues to show a statewide precipitation event. Widespread rain accumulations of 1 to 4 inches are expected across all of Texas. The only exception may be far Southwest Texas where lighter totals are forecast. Localized rain totals over 5 inches are possible but those exact spots cannot be accurately forecast until we’re within 24 hours (at best). This is going to be our best/most widespread rain event since Tropical Storm Bill back in June and I expect everyone in Texas to get rain by the time this event concludes this weekend.
Flash Flood Potential for Wednesday
Flash Flood Potential for Thursday
Flash flooding is a possibility across the Texas Panhandle, South Plains, Permian Basin, Rolling Plains, Concho Valley, Big Country, Northwest Texas, and North Texas based on the current outlook from the Weather Prediction Center. Folks out in the Permian Basin and West Texas saw a good rain event about two weeks ago while locations further east haven’t seen diddly squat in weeks to months. The flood threat will continue to be evaluated but with very dry conditions its going to take quite a bit of rain to start up the flooding again. Obviously if we see very heavy rain in a short period of time the dry soils will only help so much.
Severe Weather Threat
Severe Weather Outlook for Today
An adequate combination of wind shear and instablity will be present today to support the possibility of a few severe thunderstorms across the South Plains, Permian Basin, and Far West Texas. The Storm Prediction Center has placed a level 2 severe weather risk for Southeast New Mexico, Far West Texas, and western parts of the South Plains. A level 1 marginal risk includes Southwest Texas, the Permian Basin, and the western half of the Texas Panhandle and South Plains. The strongest storms today could become supercellular with large hail and localized damaging wind gusts. One or two tornadoes cannot be ruled out but the tornado threat is on the low-end of the spectrum.
Severe Weather Outlook for Wednesday
A marginal severe weather risk is in place for Wednesday across the Texas Panhandle, South Plains, Permian Basin, Far West Texas, and parts of the Big Country. Wind shear will be supportive of some organized thunderstorms but widespread cloud cover and precipitation are currently forecast to keep the atmosphere only marginally unstable. As we get closer and localized corridors of instablity become more clear we may see part of the risk area upgraded to a level 2/possible risk in later outlooks. Hail and localized damaging winds would again be the primary issue along with a low tornado threat.
Temperatures will be seasonal during the precipitation event. We likely won’t see much variation in day/night temperatures due to the widespread clouds and precipitation. High temperatures will top out in the upper 60s to mid 80s this week once we get rain going. Locations that are not receiving rain at times this week will be warmer with 80s.