Good morning and happy Sunday! Waking up to abundant 20s and 30s scattered across north and central Texas this morning now that the latest cold front has settled in across the state. We’ll see another night of frigid temps, then a warming trend for Monday into Thursday before our next strong cold front arrives . Let’s look at what today has in store, then we’ll take a preliminary look at what to expect later this week.
Highs today will be chilly and seasonable with highs mainly in the 50s across the entire state. We’ll see a few pockets of low 60s across south Texas, and a few across the panhandle region as winds begin to veer from the west/southwest again. Lows tonight will drop down into the 20s and 30s across a great portion of the state. The metro areas will stay mainly at or above freezing, but we’ll see outlying areas as far south as Lufkin drop down into the upper 20s. Freeze warnings will remain in place through tomorrow morning mainly for the northern portions of southeast Texas.
Forecast Synopsis for This Coming Week: Temps will quickly rebound Monday through Wednesday with above seasonal normals expected as we kick off the Thanksgiving Holiday week. Along with the warmer temps, rain chances will return starting Tuesday, and we could see a slight chance of a few Thunderstorms by Thanksgiving day for a few folks across the rolling plains of west central Texas. In addition to that, a strong cold front is expected to arrive Thursday and into Friday with precipitation chances expected to continue along and behind the front. Unlike our most recent front, we will see enough moisture return this week to produce rain and a some thunderstorms as the front dives south across the state on Thursday. At this time, atmospheric instability looks pretty meager, so we will likely not see any significant threat of severe weather, but we will keep an eye on it anyway. What will be critical to watch is the timing and amount of the precip expected after the front passes.
Current long-range models are starting to show consistency in bringing at least some threat of winter weather across the panhandle, west and west central Texas by Friday into Saturday…and possibly beyond. What they’re showing right now is an upper level low digging across the central rockies by late Wednesday with widespread lift over the western half of the state. The main energy from this low looks to lift off to the north/northeast by Friday, but what’s concerning is a piece of that energy left behind, possibly forming into a cutoff low over the desert southwest by Friday…and what appears to be a very late season hurricane impacting the Baja Mexico region by late Friday into early Saturday. As we’ve seen with past tropical systems in the Baja, we tend to get additional moisture streaming overhead which can enhance precipitation chances for Texas. The timing of the best precip chances in combination with cold continental air settling in over the state could bring travel disruptions to parts of the panhandle and west/west central Texas Friday into Saturday. We have to stress that it’s still too far out to make an accurate forecast for travel late this week, but we will continue to monitor and provide updates throughout the week.
We’ve had a relatively mild fall so far with only a few relatively “meh” cold fronts move through. That’s about to change this weekend when we will get our first arctic blast of the season! A weak front will move into the panhandle and northern Texas overnight and will keep temps on the cool side tomorrow for the northern half of the state. But by late Friday evening, a much stronger Arctic front will arrive, diving quickly south arriving along the coast by Saturday afternoon. Gusty north winds will accompany the front which will likely lead to widespread Wind Advisories overnight Friday into early Saturday.
Unlike our last front, this one will not have a severe weather threat and will only bring some scattered rain chances across central and south Texas Saturday afternoon right ahead of the front. Most of the moisture needed to produce rain and storms was pushed off the coast by our last system. With such little time it has to recover, the southern half of the state where return moisture will be more abundant, will have the best chance for seeing rain and a few thunderstorms with this next front. The really big impact will be the frigid temps, especially across the panhandle, north and western Texas where lows are expected to drop into the 20s and low 30s by Saturday night into early Sunday morning. We’ll also see temps at or just above freezing across parts of north Texas and as far south as Waco. Lows Sunday morning won’t be quite as cold as you get further south, but still quite chilly and in the 40s to low 50s. Temps will remain unseasonably cool until we get into the middle of next week when we’ll get back to warmer and more seasonal temps.
3:15 AM Severe Weather Update & Forecast Adjustment
Things have been a tad more quiet than anticipated this morning. After a significant tornado outbreak in the eastern Texas Panhandle last evening I doubt many are complaining. A line of strong thunderstorms extends from just west of Interstate 35 back southwest into the Hill Country at the time of this writing. This line of storms is moving east around 30 MPH. It has struggled to intensify this morning and in fact seems to be less organized than it was a few hours ago. There are a couple exceptions with one being a severe storm moving into Tarrant county. Strong wind gusts of 40 to 60 MPH will be possible on the leading edge of the line over the next few hours. Even though the atmosphere is quite favorable for severe weather the line isn’t having it. It may have something to do with cold outflow being generated and pushed out just ahead of the line. That cold outflow cuts off the warm and unstable airmass thus rendering it inert. That can happen sometimes and we should be thankful. Otherwise we could have been dealing with a major wind event with embedded tornadoes. The severe weather threat is not eliminated by any means as some damaging wind gusts and a low-end tornado threat will remain through the morning hours as the squall line moves east.
A separate cluster of thunderstorms has developed in the warm-air regime from near Gonzales to La Grange. These storms are moving northeast and unlike the squall line are potentially surface-based. We’ll need to monitor them closely for signs of organization as conditions are quite supportive of rotating thunderstorms. As of now they’re producing frequent cloud to ground lightning and heavy rain.
Squall Line Becoming Better Organized as it Moves Closer to Interstate 35
The leading edge of a strong to severe line of thunderstorms extends from Wichita Falls south to Olney, Breckenridge, Coleman, to Sonora. This line of storms is now several hundred miles long extending from Kansas south into Southwest Texas. The overall line is moving east at about 30 to 40 MPH. Individual cells in the line are moving more northeast. The National Weather Service in Fort Worth launched a weather balloon about an hour ago. That launch was to determine how favorable the atmosphere ahead of the squall line is for severe weather. The ‘sounding’ as its called found extremely strong wind shear in place across North and Central Texas. The atmosphere is also fairly unstable with only a weak cap in place. The result is we expect the line to maintain its intensity – if not actually strengthen some – as it approaches Interstate 35. Damaging wind gusts of 60 to 75 MPH will be possible in the most intense portions of the squall line through 5 AM. There is the potential for a few brief tornadoes in more intense line segments but the primary issue will be straightline winds with the squall line. There is some concern that isolated/discrete thunderstorms may develop a bit later this morning in parts of North and Central Texas. With extremely favorable wind shear any organized discrete storm has the potential to become tornadic. Its not guaranteed that isolated cells will fire ahead of the line this morning but its something we’ll keep a close eye on. Current timing projections place the squall line near Interstate 35 from the Red River south through North and Central Texas between 3 and 4 AM CT. Stay weather aware this morning!
The High Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) weather model seems to show the ongoing and upcoming situation fairly well. Here is a simulated radar output from that model through the morning hours.
Severe Weather Risk Spreads towards I-35 After Midnight
I just got back in from a storm chase out in the Texas Panhandle. I personally witnessed three tornadoes but there were likely over a dozen. Some of the tornadoes were large/violent and produced damage. I’ll let the local news media handle the damage reports. Let me start off by saying the threat for large/violent tornadoes has dropped off considerably. We could still see some tornadoes overnight but they’ll likely be more brief.
Shortly before 10:30 PM a line of strong thunderstorms was moving east into Northwest Texas, the Big Country, and Concho Valley. This line is moving east around 40 MPH. As the line continues to move east tonight it will have the potential to produce damaging straight-line winds over 60 MPH and brief tornadoes. As the line approaches North Texas and Interstate 35 we’ll likely see a severe weather watch issued. With a line of storms the tornado threat is reduced – but not eliminated – compared to discrete supercells. We’ll have to watch for any bookend vortices in the line that can cause localized enhanced wind gusts and brief tornadoes. Likewise if we get any discrete storms to fire up ahead of the line those could try and develop low-level rotation. The National Weather Service office in Fort Worth will launch a weather balloon at midnight. That special sounding will help determine the state of the atmosphere over North Texas.