Today will not feel like a late January day. Temperatures will soar into the upper 60s to upper 70s across all of Texas this afternoon. Those values are well above what is average for January. I doubt many folks will object except those that want snow. No worries – winter is not over by any means. While we haven’t seen many winter storms outside of the western third of Texas so far that is no guarantee we won’t through March. Snow will be possible in the Texas Panhandle Monday Night and on Tuesday. Outside of that I don’t anticipate any winter weather in the remainder of Texas for the next week.
What we will be dealing with today and on Saturday is critical fire weather danger. The fire-weather meteorologists at the Storm Prediction Center have highlighted a critical risk for wildfires across West-Central Texas and the Big Country this afternoon. Elevated to near-critical fire weather danger will exist across the Texas Panhandle, Permian Basin, Concho Valley, Northwest Texas, and along and west of Interstate 35 from Gainesville south to Temple. Outdoor burning is strongly discouraged today as any fire has the potential to rapidly spread. Fire departments should be prepared for a busy day and the potential for mutual-aid activation due to fast-moving fires.
By early afternoon winds will be out of the west or southwest across the highest risk locations. Wind gusts could approach 30 MPH. Relative humidity values are expected to be in the 20 to 30 percent range. Surface temperatures will be in the lower 70s by this afternoon. A cool front will result in a wind shift across the Texas Panhandle this afternoon but surface temperatures won’t fall much. Humidity values will rise quickly this evening and tonight as temperatures fall back into the 30s and 40s.
The dry airmass will allow temperatures to fall back quickly tonight. We’re expecting 30s in the Panhandle, West Texas, and Permian Basin. 40s can be expected across North Texas, East Texas, Central Texas, South-Central Texas, and the Coastal Plains. Lower 50s will be common in SOutheast Texas into the Rio Grande Valley. Those right along the coast will be in the mid to upper 50s overnight with sea fog.
Critical fire weather is already forecast on Saturday across Far West Texas into the Permian Basin. Near-critical fire weather danger is expected across West Texas, the South Plains, Northwest Texas, the Big Country, and the Concho Valley. Expansion of those risk areas are possible with an outlook update later today. Surface temperatures will be even warmer with mid 70s to lower 80s. Relative humidity values will be in the 20-25 percent range. Fire departments should be prepared for a busy fire weather period today through the weekend. Sunday has the potential to be a busy fire-weather day along and west of Interstate 35 including parts of North, Central, and South-Central Texas.