Rain chances return to the forecast today for portions of south central and southeast Texas.  Rainfall amounts are expected to be light, but considering the rapid uptick of drought conditions across the state over the past several months, we’ll take whatever we can get wherever we can get it.  The outlook for the remainder of the state, especially the western half, remains pretty much zilch until we head into next week.  Today and tomorrow will feature temperatures above normal and quite pleasant for the first week of February…the heart of the Winter months. The eastern half of the state today will see the coolest temps in the 50s and 60s, while highs today out west soar into the upper 70s to low 80s.  Tomorrow, we’ll see highs near 70 across the eastern half of the state, with another round of high 70s across the west.  Critical to Elevated fire weather conditions will remain in place for the western half of the state with breezy and dry conditions expected.

A weak cold front will move into the northern half of the state tomorrow afternoon into Monday.  It’s expected this front will stall out somewhere near or just south of the I-20 corridor before retreating back north again by Monday afternoon.  Another, stronger, front will arrive on Tuesday into early Wednesday which will affect all of the state by Wednesday afternoon as it reaches our coastal areas.  Of course this one will also quickly retreat back to the north by Thursday, so it looks like we’ll be dealing with a week of roller coaster temps…warm one day, cooler the next…but at least we’ll not be dealing with arctic air.  Rain chances will increase next week, but at this time, the forecast models are not showing much consistency with how much rainfall we can expect to receive.  Right now, amounts look light, but we may see that trend pick up a bit as we head into next week.  There’s also a chance for storms on Tuesday with the arrival of the second front mentioned above. We will certainly be keeping our eyes on that and keep you updated as the forecast refines itself.

The latest drought monitor continues to show the grim reality of lack of rain across the state, especially for portions of northwest Texas and the Texas panhandle which has been hit the hardest.  Currently, nearly 87% of the state is now experiencing at least some level of drought.  56% of the state is considered to be under Moderate drought conditions, with about 22% of the state under Severe drought and 7% under Extreme drought conditions. These percentages have continued to rise slightly each week, and with the remainder of the winter season still expected to be “drier than average overall”, we don’t have much hope of any improvement to this anytime soon.  But, as anyone who has lived in our state for many years can tell you, it’s usually feast or famine when it comes to rainfall here.  Those that were here in 2011, when we had our driest and most miserable year on record, knew that it will turn around eventually. Four years later in 2015, we ended up with our wettest year on record.