Two distinct weather issues will continue to impact parts of the state overnight and into Saturday. For the panhandle region grappling with a crippling ice storm, there’s been a lull in precipitation today; however, that’s expected to pick back up again overnight into early tomorrow with additional ice accumulations of 1/4 to 1/2 inch likely. Light snow will also be possible, especially for the northern portion of the TX panhandle and up into the Oklahoma panhandle. Temperatures in the panhandle region have been remained in the mid to upper 20s most of the day, and many will see temps drop into the upper teens tonight. Travel remains strongly discouraged across the region tonight. If you have to be out and about due to work, be prepared to face many road closures and take food/water supplies and blankets with you in case you end up stranded somewhere. Winter Storm Warnings and Ice Storm Warnings remain in effect across the region until mid-day Saturday and may be extended beyond that based on precipitation trends at that time.
For north Texas which has been dealing with flooding issues since last night, this threat will continue overnight into Saturday as rain…some heavy…continues to develop and track across the region overnight into tomorrow morning. For most of the afternoon, the heaviest rain has been just off to the northwest and west of the DFW metro area and up along the Red River between Wichita Falls, Gainesville over to Sherman. But this band of heavy rain is is slowly shifting east with another band of heavy rain approaching the southwest side of Ft. Worth and quickly moving to the northeast. Now that it’s dark, it will make driving even more hazardous, especially in the rural areas where it’s hard to see when roadways are under water. If you have to travel anywhere tonight, slow down and allow extra time to reach your destination. Some roads may be closed along your journey, so be sure to check www.drivetexas.org for the latest hazards and closures before you head out. Lows tonight across north central and northeast Texas will remain above freezing, so ice will not be an issue.
For this evening, we expect ongoing showers and thunderstorms to gradually diminish as we lose daytime heating. Best chances for isolated to spotty residual rain activity will be along the coast/coastal plains up into east and southeast Texas. As our next cold front approaches from the north overnight, we will also see an uptick in chances for rain/thunder across the panhandle along and behind the frontal boundary.
The timing of the front is a bit uncertain at this time, but they do have a habit of traveling a little faster than what the models show, so here is our best guess at this time. Amarillo and Lubbock before 10am tomorrow…Wichita Falls around 11am…DFW between 11am and 1pm…Waco and central Texas after 4pm. Based on current models, it looks like a reinforcement of cooler and drier air will arrive after dark tomorrow and really drive the front towards the coast by early Saturday morning. Along and ahead of the front tomorrow will be the best chances for rain and storm activity…especially across central and south central Texas as the front pushes through there during peak daytime heating. We aren’t expecting widespread severe, but we could see a few stronger cells with gusty winds and heavy downpours. We will take another look at the potential frontal timing and storm chances and update that early tomorrow.
Lows tonight, mild and in the 70s across a majority of the state. Pleasantly cooler temps will reside across the panhandle and over into west Texas. Tomorrow’s highs will still be quite warm out ahead of the front…but once it passes…take a look at the forecast lows for Friday night and highs for Saturday! Not bad at all!
Hot and mostly clear skies will be the story once again today. In the weather forecast that continues in a recurring loop we will see the same forecast continue for another 6 days or so. By late next week a breakdown of the upper level ridge should allow for a cool front and perhaps rain chances by next Thursday-Friday. Temperatures will climb into the upper 90s to lower 100s today. Laredo will top out at 104 degrees, Houston at 96, Tyler and Wichita Falls at 99, and Amarillo at a toasty 97 degrees. Heat index values will be 2 to 8 degrees hotter than the air temperature. Dangerous heat index temperatures of 102 to 108 degrees are expected during peak-heating in the shade this afternoon along and east of Interstate 35. A rouge shower will be possible in the Alpine and Davis mountains – otherwise rain is not expected today. Temperatures will cool into the mid to upper 70s tonight. Parts of the D/FW Metroplex and Houston may not get below 80-81 degrees tonight with heat index values staying close to 90 degrees.
The D/FW Metroplex is now in exceptional drought conditions which is the most significant drought level. The last time D/FW was under exceptional drought conditions was back in October 2011. With the driest September on record its not hard to grasp how the drought has become so bad again in D/FW. Wichita Falls has been dealing with the same issue for over a year now as Northwest Texas also continues in an exceptional drought. Severe drought conditions continue in parts of the Hill Country and Texas Panhandle.
Now for the good news: Over a quarter of Texas is officially out of the drought with this week’s update. All of Southwest Texas, much of the Rio Grande Valley, and Southwest Texas are all doing better and have been removed from all drought designations. That does not mean the drought can’t come back quickly if the faucet shuts off. With above average precipitation expected in this winter with a weak El Neno there remains hope we can continue to erode drought conditions and start adding water back to our lakes.
Text summary from the United States Drought Monitor and USDA. The South An inch or more of rain fell in parts of the South, with locally 3 inches or more in western and southern Texas. These rains, and rains from previous weeks, helped replenish soil moisture and refill reservoirs, so D0-D3 were contracted in the west and south. On a statewide basis, little change occurred in the topsoil and subsoil moisture conditions, with 53% of topsoil and 61% of subsoil in Texas short or very short of moisture, and 31% of the pasture and rangeland in poor to very poor condition. This is because the week was dry to the north and east, where soils continued to dry and reservoir levels fall, so D1-D4 expanded in parts of north central and northeast Texas and the Texas panhandle. Dallas-Fort Worth had the driest September and ninth driest year-to-date on record. Further to the north, conditions deteriorated in Oklahoma, where 65% of the topsoil and 74% of the subsoil were short or very short of moisture, and 20% of pasture and rangeland were rated poor or very poor. The bone-dry soils in many areas, accompanied by dried up ponds and, in the panhandle, blowing dust, worried agricultural interests. The fact that more (greater percentage) subsoil was dry to very dry compared to topsoil indicated that the region never fully recovered from the drought of 2011-2012. D0-D4 were expanded in several areas across the state.
Saturday’s Weather Roundup – Cold Front pushing through North Texas
Good morning and happy Saturday! A weak and shallow cold front is currently pushing through north Texas and into the DFW metro area. It will continue to slowly drift south during the day today, eventually stalling and phasing out in the Waco vicinity. Behind the front, temps are currently in the 50 to 60 degree range across the panhandle and south rolling plains. Highs out there today will remain cool due to extensive cloud cover that is expected to keep the area socked in until tomorrow. Here’s a look at the current radar image showing a broad area of rain continuing to impact parts of the south rolling plains and up into western north Texas around Wichita Falls, Vernon and then further south towards Snyder.
Best chances of rain today will be across western north Texas this morning, then shifting south between DFW and Waco and over into west central Texas by later this afternoon. Scattered showers are also expected once again along the coast as a little disturbance travels southwestward over the area. Overall very similar to what’s been experienced the past couple of days. Some of these showers could become strong with gust winds and frequent lightning. Can’t rule out an isolated funnel cloud or two with the amount of moisture still impacting the region. Across far west Texas, best chances for seeing heavy rain will occur later this afternoon then into the overnight hours, then again on Sunday. Flash Flood Watches have been posted for a majority of the west Texas counties and include the cities of El Paso, Pecos, Ft. Davis, Marfa and Presidio.
Highs today will obviously be impacted by both the front and any showers/storms. Overall though, not too bad with the highest readings average in the mid 90’s across the southern half of the state. Nighttime lows will be quite cool across western Texas, the panhandle and western north Texas. We’ll start to warm up again by Monday, but we are still on track to receive a much stronger cold front by the end of this next week, so hang in there!