It’s been way too long since we’ve used the words rain and panhandle in the same sentence, but we get to do just that this evening as the prospects for widespread rainfall increase across this region by the end of this week.  While this will not be a drought-busting rain by any means, it does look to be the first really decent chance we’ve seen for beneficial rainfall across the parched Texas panhandle that we’ve seen in quite some time.  I think by this point, any amount would be welcomed by residents and especially by firefighters that have been busy battling numerous large wildfires over the past several weeks now.

The rain chances begin late Thursday night, mainly for our far western Texas regions near El Paso and up into the eastern half of New Mexico. A strong upper level system is expected to approach the region late Thursday into early Friday providing a focal point for lift and at least scattered storm development during the overnight hours.  Moisture will be sparse at first, hence just scattered chances for storms later Thursday, but moisture will increase into Friday when greater rain and more widespread storm coverage is expected to take hold across much of the panhandle region and west central Texas.  At this time, the main threats with the storms late Thursday night into Friday appear to be mainly hail, gusty winds and lightning…but the dynamics overhead will be something to watch as this gets closer because just a bit more moisture flowing in across the region could result in an increase in the threat for both stronger storms and a brief tornado or two.  By Saturday, ongoing rainfall across western north Texas, west central Texas and down into southwest Texas will continue to move east which will mean better chances for widespread rainfall through Saturday night into parts of north, central and southeast Texas as well.  There is a chance for strong to severe storms, but it’s too early to get specific on those details just yet.  The current rainfall outlook highlights at least 1 inch to 1.5 inches of rainfall, on average, expected between Friday and Saturday across parts of the Texas panhandle…with similar amounts expected across north, central, east and southeast Texas as the system tracks east across the state.  This system over the last few forecast model runs is showing some signs of slowing which, if this pans out, could bring an even greater coverage of beneficial rainfall for both the panhandle and west/west central Texas before all is said and done.  We will continue to monitor the outlooks and bring you the latest once the forecast comes into better focus by late Wednesday and Thursday, so stay tuned!