Grab your morning cup of caffeine. We’ve got a lot to talk about this morning with the warning map lit up like a uniquely-colored Christmas tree. Winter weather has the potential of impacting all of our largest metros in Texas in the coming 36 hours. Let’s start off by reviewing the current warnings and advisories. In order of severity we go 1) Warning, 2) Advisory, 3) Watch. The big message with this storm is that temperatures will quickly fall into the 20s as precipitation switches over from rain to freezing rain/sleet/snow. Regardless of where you are on the map – it will only take 0.01″ of accumulation to cause major travel impacts. So while it may not look like your typical winter wonderland by the time this event concludes, the impacts will be quite real.
Winter Storm Warning for accumulating sleet and snow resulting in very hazardous driving conditions is in effect late tonight through Tuesday evening in the Hill Country, Central Texas, portions of East Texas, and Northeast Texas.
Some cities included: Sonora, Junction, Rocksprings, Uvalde, Kerrville, Brady, Llano, San Antonio, San Marcos, Austin, Georgetown, Gonzales, La Grange, Giddings, Cameron, San Saba, Hamilton, Gatesville, Killeen, Temple, Belton, Waco, Cameron, Hillsboro, Waxahachie, Ennis, Corsicana, Mexia, Buffalo, Palestine, Athens, Terrell, Canton, Mineola, Tyler, Jacksonville, Henderson, Longview, Gilmer, Sulphur Springs, Mount Pleasant, Carthage, Jefferson, Atlanta, De Kalb, New Boston, and Texarkana.
Accumulations will vary – but generally, the expectation is that portions of the warning area will receive one-tenth of an inch to two inches of sleet and snow accumulations. Locally higher snowfall amounts up to 4 inches can’t be ruled out in Northeast Texas and portions of East Texas. Due to temperatures falling into the teens and twenties accumulations are expected on roadways. It will only take 0.01″ to 0.02″ of ice accumulation to make travel conditions treacherous. These conditions will lead to hazardous to nearly impossible travel conditions in some locations with road closures possible. Difficult travel conditions are expected to continue through all of Texas and into the first half of Wednesday. These hazardous road conditions are expected to significantly impact Austin and San Antonio metros by Tuesday evening through late Wednesday morning.
Winter Weather/Travel Advisory for portions of the Concho Valley, Big Country, North Texas, the Brazos Valley, Southeast Texas, the Coastal Plains, Middle Texas Coast, and South Texas.
Some cities included: Del Rio, Ozona, Eldorado, San Angelo, Ballinger, Abilene, Brownwood, Cisco, Breckenridge, Stephenville, Mineral Wells, Weatherford, Granbury, Cleburne, Fort Worth, Dallas, Plano, McKinney, Greenville, Bonham, Cooper, Paris, Clarksville on the north/west side of the ‘event’. Eagle Pass, Cotulla, Laredo, Pleasanton, Freer, Alice, Corpus Christi, Beeville, Kenedy, Cuero, Yoakum, Victoria, Port Lavaca, Edna, El Campo, Columbus, Sealy, Katy, Houston, Galveston, Liberty, Livingston, Crockett, Madisonville, Huntsville, Conroe, Spring, Brenham, Navasota, Bryan, and College Station.
Light accumulations of freezing rain, sleet, and some snow are possible. Due to temperatures falling well below freezing there is the potential for hazardous travel conditions – especially on bridges and elevated surfaces – with the lightest of precipitation and accumulations. While not everyone in the advisory zone will see accumulations or travel impacts, it will only take 0.01″ of ice accumulation to cause travel surfaces to ice over. Portions of the advisory in the Brazos Valley may be upgraded to a Winter Storm Warning later today if confidence in more substantial accumulations increases. Texoma and northwestern portions of the D/FW Metroplex have not been included in an advisory at this time. It looks like the dry air will win the battle and keep those locations mostly dry. As always it’ll be a fine line, so keep an eye out.
While winter accumulations are expected to be highest in the warning, travel impacts could be the same in both the advisory and warning zones. Any winter accumulations have the potential to cause significant travel disruptions due to temperatures falling well below freezing during and after the event. This may result in road closures and widespread travel disruptions beginning late tonight in the north; spreading south during the day Tuesday, and continuing into Wednesday morning.
For your local weather information head to www.weather.gov and plop in your city/zip code. That’ll provide you with specific accumulation and timing information.
Once the winter precipitation has concluded we’ll have to deal with the bitterly cold airmass left in its wake. High temperatures on Tuesday will probably not get above freezing along and north of a from a Del Rio to San Antonio to Bryan/College Station to Lufkin line. Temperatures may struggle to even get out of the 20s. We do note that these high temperatures are technically for all of Tuesday; so the high temperature will likely be in the morning hours across Southeast Texas, South Texas, and in the afternoon in Deep South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley. Temperatures will fall into the 30s after the cold front’s arrival. Northerly winds gusting up to 35 MPH will create wind chill values around twenty degrees below the actual air temperature.
A very hard freeze is forecast Wednesday morning as temperatures fall into the teens along/north of the Hill Country to Central Texas to Piney Woods in East Texas. Some locations will likely see single-digit low temperatures. Obviously, any winter accumulations will not be melting on Tuesday into Wednesday morning. South of ‘the teens’ lows will be in the 20s all the way south to Laredo, Corpus Christi, and Houston. The only spot that may not see a freeze is the Rio Grande Valley, and that would be with a low of 33 or 34 degrees.
Wednesday will be a chilly winter’s day with high temperatures in the 30s to lower 40s across Texas. The warm spot should be El Paso with a high of 46 degrees. Most locations should spend at least a little time above freezing on Wednesday. It’s during the late morning and afternoon hours on Wednesday that we should see improvement on roadways still covered with snow or ice. Temperatures will fall below freezing by or just after sunset, so any melting that occurs could re-freeze into black ice for the Thursday morning commute.