Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I'm Back, and So is The Rain

After spending a week away on vacation, I will be returning to the tv set on Wednesday, just in time to track some beneficial showers and thunderstorms across East Texas.

I enjoyed my vacation, and more importantly, spending time with my wonderful family back in my hometown, The Woodlands.

While I was away, we did receive some beneficial rain on Christmas Eve night.

We now have another shot at picking up some soaking rain showers starting later tonight and lasting through most of the day on Wednesday.

Several of our computer models suggest we could receive anywhere from 0.50" to 1.0" of rain, with some isolated spots receiving even more.

With a severe to extreme drought draped over the Piney Woods, we will take every single drop of rain we can get at this point.

Look for temperatures to stay on the mild side, before another good chance of rain comes in on New Year's Eve. The rain chance on Friday will come with a cold front, slated to cool us down in time for the new year.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Break Out the Jackets for Christmas

After experiencing record high temperatures on Tuesday, we will finally get back to reality as Old Man Winter makes a return to East Texas.

On Christmas Eve, part of the storm system currently affecting California will pull eastward. As a trough of low pressure moves through on Friday, it will drag a strong cold front into the Piney Woods, just in time for Santa's arrival.

Along the front, we might actually be able to squeeze out some rain showers this time around. Considering the fact we are in a severe drought, let's hope that we receive some showers to help out the parched lawns and vegetation.

Once the front moves through, winds will pick up out of the north, ushering in a much colder airmass.

Look for a cold sunshine on Saturday, with highs expected to not even get out of the 40's. When you combine the air temperature with the breezy north winds, we will have wind chill values in the upper 30's. Brrrr.

This colder weather should put all of us in the holiday spirit.

I'd like to take the time to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Welcoming Winter with a Lunar Eclipse

If you are a star gazer or like astronomy, then you may want to stay up extra late tonight. That's because the sun, earth, and moon will align themselves to form a lunar eclipse.

As the moon orbits the earth, it will pass through the earth's shadow, giving way to a full moon and a lunar eclipse. Often times, the moon will have a copper red to orange-like appearance if skies are clear and visibilites are high.
That, in turn, could be a problem for us tonight in East Texas. Clouds will be present and we could even see some areas of patchy fog form after midnight. If either of these scenarios happen, then most of us will not be able to see the moon and its bright appearance.
The best window of opportunity to view the full moon will be from 1-3am local time.

This lunar eclipse will welcome in winter, which officially arrives at 5:38pm Tuesday afternoon.
That occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere, giving us the shortest day of the year.
While winter arrives tomorrow night, it won't be feeling like it as temperatures will be running several degrees above normal for mid-December.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cold Fronts Providing No Rainfall, Lead to Worsening Drought

For quite some time, we have been talking about a roller coaster ride when it comes to our temperatures.

It will go from unseasonably warm to bitter cold in just a matter of hours, only to warm up just a few days later.

This up and down ride is not uncommon due to the time of year we are in. With an active Jetstream, we typically see cold fronts move across the country every 3-4 days.

It is along those cold fronts where we typically pick up a majority of our rainfall this time of year. As you well know, we have been hard pressed to get a drop out of Mother Nature when these fronts arrive into East Texas.

With very little rainfall over the past few months, the drought conditions continue to worsen.

In the updated drought conditions released today, most of East Texas has been upgraded to a stage 2 "Severe drought."

Portions of western Houston and Trinity counties have been upgraded to a stage 3 "Extreme drought." Keep in mind that there are four stages of drought, with a stage 4 drought being the worst.

With crop and pasture losses likely at this point, we need rain and lots of it. Otherwise, we could be looking at water restrictions put in place rather quickly.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Few Flurries and Staying in the Deep Freeze

A fast moving upper level disturbance will move through East Texas overnight, providing us with light rain and perhaps a few sleet pellets and snow flurries.

Anytime you have a system move over temperatures which are near freezing at the surface, the talk of a wintry mix seems to come to the table.

This system will dump some snow over parts of the Arklatex and northern Louisiana. Accumulations in those areas could be as high as 1-2."

We may see a few flurries and sleet pellets mix in with the rain, but for the most part, most of our precipitation will be in liquid form.

After this system moves out, another freeze will set up for Thursday morning, before a brief warm up takes place to end the week.

I use the word brief because several computer models are showing a surge of Arctic air spilling southward and into the Southeast United States by Sunday.

This cold blast will be due to a huge trough (dip in the Jetstream) making it all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico.

If you watch our weathercasts, we like to show the Jetstream features whenever it helps drive home the weather story.

The Jetstream is a fast moving current of air that separates cold air from the warm air. It also is the main storm track for most of our storm systems across the country.

The image above shows the coldest air just missing us off to the east. Even if this happens, we will still see some of our coldest weather this late fall season surge into East Texas over the weekend.

If the Jetstream were to configure itself a little farther to the west, then it may get even colder than what are forecast numbers indicate at this point.

Nevertheless, it looks like Old Man Winter may be getting an early start on winter in December.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Drought Conditions Worsen

I like to be the bearer of good news; however, I must also tell you the news you sometimes don't like to hear.

It is no secret that for the past month and a half, most of East Texas has been placed in a "Stage 1" moderate drought. That is the first of four stages of drought with a stage 4 being the worst.

As you can see, things have gotten worse as areas from Lufkin to Crockett and over towards Corrigan are now in a "Stage 2" severe drought. There is also a severe drought for eastern portions of Sabine, Newton, and Shelby counties as well.

The lack of rainfall (13" deficit) and dry conditions continues to put us in a deep hole when it comes to catching up on rainfall.

What these drought conditions mean is that water shortages will become more common over the next several weeks. In addition, crop and pasture losses will be likely as well.

Our extended forecast shows virtually no decent chances for rain as there will be limited moisture for future cold fronts to work with.

Monday, November 29, 2010

East Texas Weather is Constant Change These Days

I hope each of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. While it was a holiday for most of us, it has been anything but one for meteorologists over the past couple of days.

We went from record highs last week, to freezing temperatures and a cold snap, back to warmer weather and rain on Monday. This is the time of year when we see the weather change very frequently, as cold fronts and active storm systems move rapidly across the country.

We saw another storm system affect us earlier today, bringing us several rounds of showers and thunderstorms. The images above show rainfall amounts from our awarding winning Weather Watchers in Deep East Texas. Most areas did pick up anywhere from a quarter to one half inch, with some locations receiving over an inch of rain in spots.
This rain is all ahead of another cold front which will drop our temperatures once more on Tuesday. If you are planning on heading out the the City of Lufkin Christmas Parade on Tuesday evening, make sure to bundle up the kids. It will feel like the weather we had over the weekend, which was far different than what we experienced today.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Travelcast

If you are planning on traveling to see friends and family this Thanksgiving week, you will want to stay alert and be prepared for what the weather will be like wherever your destination may take you.Even though we are a few days out, this map above outlines what you can expect across the United States, both with temperatures and precipitation.

If you are headed to the Rockies, Northwest U.S., or the Northern Plain states, make sure you have your winter wardrobe in your travel bag. All of these areas in the dark blue can expect frigid conditions, with even some parts of the Northern Plains seeing some white stuff fall from the sky as well.

The green on the map, which stretches from us in East Texas all the way up through the Mississippi River Valley and into the Northeast U.S., can anticipate some scattered rain showers throughout the course of the day. This rain will form along a cold front, which will provide us and many others with a big dip in the temperatures on Thanksgiving Day.

If you want a warm Thanksgiving, you will want to head down to Florida or the Carolina's, as temperatures in these areas will be running well above normal for this time of year.

If you will be traveling this week, we have you covered with KTRE9 TO GO. It is here you can get satellite and radar updates for any location in the United States, as well as track your flight. All the tools are at your fingertips. Make sure to sign-up today to take advantage of our free software.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

La Nina Setting in This Winter Season

This time of year, I run into people all the time wondering just how cold our winter season will be in 2010-2011?

As you know, I am a meteorologist, and mainly focus on short term forecasts (3-7 days out). We do have a group of weather scientiests that do focus on long term forecast change, based on weather pattern studies.

We call them climatologists, and just recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released their precipitation and temperature outlook for this upcoming winter season. This includes the three month period of December 2010-February 2011.

We are looking for drier than normal conditions, while parts of the Pacific Northwest and Northern Plains are anticipating a wetter than normal winter season.

Considering we are currently in a moderate drought, this certainly is not good news, as ground soils are very dry.

In terms of our temperature outlook, we are expecting warmer than normal conditions. Again, this does not mean we won't see some hard freezes or cold blasts, it just means over the three month period of December -February, our average temperatures should remain above our normal climate values.
It should be noted that this past winter (2009-2010) was colder and wetter than normal, as we had an El Nino type weather pattern in place. If you recall, we had some record low temperatures set last year with three different snowfall events.
Based on current trends with sea surface temperatures, jet stream patterns, etc., we are settling into a La Nina type weather pattern, which is just the opposite of El Nino.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Big Changes this Weekend

After a rather warm and tranquil week weatherwise, we will be in store for some big changes this weekend all thanks to a cold front.

Our November front will move through East Texas overnight Friday and into early Saturday morning. Our Microcast computer model shows the front moving in between the hours of 3-5am on Saturday morning, when most of us are sound asleep.
You can expect some pockets of rain and a little bit of thunder as the front moves through.
Behind the front, look for the rain to taper off on Saturday as the deeper moisture moves further off to the east and exits stage right.

Even though the rain will temporarily move out, the clouds won't. As a result, temperatures will struggle to make it out of the 50's on Saturday, as we are left with mostly cloudy skies and damp conditions.
After a break in the rain Saturday afternoon, look for thicker clouds and another chance of rain to return to East Texas on Sunday, lasting through early next week.
Needless to say, you will probably need a light jacket and some rain gear if you plan on being outside this weekend.
Hopefully we will receive some much needed rain over the weekend and into early next week. With a moderate drought in place, we could surely use a drink of water, courtesy of Mother Nature.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Drought Worsens, Spreads Over Most of East Texas

After several months of avoiding the drought, the time has finally come. Most of East Texas has now been placed under a Stage 1 Moderate Drought.

The shading of maroon on the image to your left shows just how far the moderate drought has expanded to the south and west. Excluding Anderson county, the rest of our KTRE viewing area is under a drought.
If you look real closely, extreme eastern Newton county is in a Stage 2 Severe Drought. It gets even worse in Louisiana as many residents east of the Sabine River are in a Stage 3 Extreme Drought.
Keep in mind that the worst possible drought is a Stage 4 Exceptional Drought.
Even though we are just in a Stage 1 Moderate Drought, it is still a cause for concern as very little rain has fallen over the past few months.
With a drought now in place for many of us, don't be surprised to see damage to crops and pastures. Reservoirs and wells will remain extremely low, and water restrictions could be imposed if things don't improve soon.

Friday, November 5, 2010

First Freeze and Fire Restrictions

Parts of East Texas will see their first freeze of the fall season coming up tomorrow morning. Areas along and north of a Crockett to Lufkin to Hemphill line will have a chance to hit the freezing mark on Saturday morning.

Areas along and south of a Groveton to Corrigan and Woodville line will stay just above freezing, with lows falling into the middle 30's in these locations.

If you have any plants or tender vegetation, make sure you cover them up with a blanket or bring them inside. Even though we are just expecting a light freeze, you don't want to be caught off guard when you check on your plants Saturday morning.

With the cooler weather also comes the time for deer hunting. As the season begins on Saturday, the weather will be nice and cold in the morning, just like many of you hunters like.
We want to remind you, however, of some fire restrictions that the U.S. Forest Service has put in place as a result of the parched grounds soils.
The U.S. Forest Service has stated that only gas and propane grills, lanterns and stoves may be used in developed recreation areas and designated hunter camps in the Angelina, Sabine, Davy Crockett and Sam Houston National Forests.
This means that campfire use is prohibited until more rain falls across the Piney Woods.
In the meantime, whether you plan on hunting, camping, or just watching college football this weekend, have a great one. It will certainly be sweater weather, that's for sure.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rainfall Where You Live

A slow and meandering upper low has situated itself over East and Southeast Texas the past couple of days, bringing with it light to moderate rain and overcast skies.

Due to the slow and steady rainfall, we were able to see lots of the rain and moisture soak into the very parched soils of the Piney Woods. This is the type of rain we needed, considering we are in a moderate to severe drought.

As a result of the rainfall, we have seen two East Texas counties lift their burn bans in as many days.

On Tuesday, Angelina county lifted their burn ban and today, Shelby county followed up by dropping their burn ban as well.

We still have nine counties in our KTRE viewing area still under burn bans, and we will keep you posted and let you know if any more are dropped in the days ahead.

If you are wondering how much rain you or your neighbors received, here's a list of rainfall totals through Tuesday night from our Weather Watchers.

1. Tim Martin, Broaddus----------------- 0.70"
2. Bill Wallace, Chireno------------------- 1.40"
3. Glenda Douglas, Crockett---------------1.16"
4. Daryl Thomas, Cushing---------------- 3.50"
5. Willie Lankford, Etoile----------------- 0.92"
6. Gordon Hooker, Groveton------------- 0.60"
7. Lane Lowery, Huntington-------------- 0.96"
8. Cindy Hoyt, Kennard-------------------0.90"
9. Jerry Fender, Livingston--------------- 0.80"
10. Jimmy Partin, Looneyville------------ 1.80"
11. Staci Byrd, Milam-------------------- 0.60"
12. Dave Olszewski, South Lufkin--------- 1.85"
13. Bill Teague, South Nac. Co.-------------2.10"
14. Dorothy Penney, South Rusk Co.-------2.30"
15. Larry Graybill, Trawick----------------2.50"

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cooler and Wetter: We'll Take It

A cold front will move through East Texas overnight, bringing an end to the quick warm-up which occured on Monday.

Along the front, we will see some scattered strong storms rumble through East Texas.

The best news is that when the front moves through, the rain will not move out.

We will see a strong upper low move over Southeast Texas the next couple of days, keeping rain in the forecast. With the clouds and rain around, temperatures will struggle to make it out of the 60's over the next few days.

Our in house computer model suggests we could see 1-2" between now and Wednesday evening, with the highest rainfall amounts across our southern and eastern counties.

Notice that our western counties won't see as much, but even then, we could pick up 0.50" on average in these areas.

The best part about this rain event is that it will be drawn out over a couple of days. That means the moisture will be able to soak into the very dry ground soils. Considering we have a moderate to severe drought in place across the Piney Woods, this slow rain event is

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Chill in the Air

After experiencing record high temperatures on Wednesday, the weather has taken a turn towards the cooler side of things.

This drastic change came from a very strong cold front, which moved through early this morning. This airmass behind the front will provide us with the coolest weather we have seen so far this fall season.

With clear skies, dry air, and light winds in place, many of our friends in North Texas are under a Frost Advisory, as lows will be in the middle 30's by tomorrow morning.

In Oklahoma and Arkansas, they have Freeze Warnings out, with many of the low lying areas in the hilly Ozarks dropping to near the freezing mark.

While we will not experience any freezing temperatures, it will be quite chilly the next couple of mornings.

Many of us will drop into the upper 30's and lower 40's on Friday morning, with most areas dropping into the middle 30's by Saturday morning.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Avoiding the Severe Weather

It was a stormy weekend across East Texas, just not in our neck of the woods. A severe weather outbreak erupted on both Saturday and Sunday across North and Northeast Texas, producing a couple of tornadoes, along with large hail, and damaging winds.

This graphic shows every severe weather report that occured with the severe thunderstorms on Sunday.

Thankfully for us, we dodged a bullet, with all of the strong thunderstorms staying some 50-100 miles off to our north.

We did not see any storms here in Deep East Texas because we had a cap, or stable layer of air just about 5,000 feet above the surface. This cap is a layer of warm air aloft that prevents thunderstorms from developing.

To our north, that was not the case, as they had no cap and a very unstable atmosphere.

While we missed out on the rain, at least we missed out on the high winds and large hail.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Strong Storms Possible This Weekend

The warm and humid air across East Texas, almost makes it seem like it is late spring or early summer.

Often times when we get this warm and humid, the only way to get rid of it is through rain and thunderstorms.

We need the rain so this is certainly good news. The only downfall, however, is that some of the storms late Saturday and on Sunday could become severe. This means any storms that develop or roll into the Piney Woods could produce small hailstones, and gusty winds.

Considering we are in a drought, we will take the rain any way we can get it at this point.

Our futurecast computer model suggests that the best chance for widespread, heavy downpours, will be along and just east of the Interstate 35 corridor in Central and North Central Texas.

If you plan on traveling up to Waco or Dallas this weekend, you may find yourself in heavy traffic as strong storms are likely in those areas.

Even though we may not see as much rain as our friends to the north and west of us, we have the potential to receive a half inch to one inch in locations where storms do develop this weekend.

The only unfortunate part is that not everyone will receive significant rainfall. Those of you that do, be thankful. I know the vegetation will be.

After the storm system moves out late Sunday, our skies will clear out, but the temperatures won't be falling. Instead, they will be warming into the upper 80's, approaching 90. Our latest computer models suggest our next significant cold front and cool down may take place towards the end of next week.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Parched Soils Lead to More Burn Bans, Drought Conditions

I've said it once and I'll say it again. Too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing when it comes to weather often times.
Our stretch of beautiful weather is making for very dry conditions and is leading to an increased fire risk across all of East Texas.

This map is an updated graphic showing every single county in East Texas currently under a burn ban.

In our KTRE viewing area, the only counties that are not currently under burn bans are Anderson, Cherokee, and Nacogdoches counties. Everyone else has one enacted, meaning outdoor burning where you live is prohibited.

The Texas Forest Service has come out and said that several fires have been ongoing this past month, many of them intentionally set. More than 1500 acres across the Piney Woods have already been burned, including damage to five homes.

The recent dry conditions have led to a "Stage 1 Moderate Drought" for parts of East Texas. This is the first level of a drought and is indicated by the shading of brown in the image to your left. Notice how this area is now encompassing parts of Nacogdoches county and most of Angelina county.

We also have a "Stage 2 Severe Drought" indicated by the orange shading. This includes eastern portions of Shelby, Sabine, and Newton counties.

You'll notice that the farther east you go, the worse the drought becomes. Needless to say, if you live in Sabine, San Augustine, Shelby, Jasper, and Newton counties, you will want to be especially careful about doing any activity or gesture that would have the potential to lead to a brush or wildfire.

The combination of low humidity and very dry soils means it won't take much for a small brush fire to get out of control.

Make sure you check our weather page daily for any changes to the burn ban list.

In looking into my crystal ball, it appears we might see some showers and storms by the middle of next week. However, it won't be the widespread, soaking rains that we really need to help alleviate the drought conditions.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rainfall a Welcome Sight, But Dry Conditions Still Persist

After nearly three weeks of clear skies and beautiful weather, we received something just as beautiful: RAIN!

The rainfall on Monday and Monday night was nice to see, as two complexes of showers and storms moved into East Texas.

Our Storm Tracker Live Doppler Network estimated that over 3 inches of rain fell along an east to west stretch just south of Highway 84. It started in Cherokee county near Alto and extended through northern Nacogdoches county and into Shelby county. It is these areas that saw the most rain, which came ahead of another cold front.

As you can see by the image, most areas picked up anywhere from 1/2 to 2" of rain.

What's important to realize is that this rainfall helped the parched soils and lawns across the Piney Woods, but by no means does this mean things are back to normal.

Despite the rainfall, three more East Texas counties have enacted burn bans. On Tuesday, Rusk, Houston, and Trinity counties were placed under a burn ban until further notice.

That now makes ten counties in the KTRE viewing area that are currently prohibited from doing any outdoor burning at this time.

We could stand to use even more rain to help erase our rainfall deficit. The problem, however, is that the clear skies and cooler temperatures will offer no help for the rest of the week.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dry Conditions and Lack of Rainfall Create Fire Danger

It is really hard to find fault with anything that has to do with our weather. After all, it has been nothing short of spectacular as clear skies and low humidity have made for very pleasant conditions.

However, with the beautiful weather comes no rain. The lack of rainfall is becoming problematic as ground soils and vegetation are starting to dry out significantly.
We now have burn bans in place for five of our local counties in the Piney Woods of East Texas.
Earlier today, Jasper and Newton county were added to the burn ban list. San Augustine county had their burn ban removed.
It should be noted that even if your county is not under a burn ban, it would not be wise to burn as the low humidity and dry conditions could cause a small brush fire to get out of control.
We are now running a rainfall deficit closing in on 9 inches for the year.
Unfortunately, there is no sign of a significant change to our weather pattern over the next week or so. That means you will want to continue watering your lawn and plants as Mother Nature will provide no relief.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ending September on a Cool and Pleasant Note

It was as if we flipped the switch from summer to fall in a span of 36 hours.
We went from high temperatures in the 90's, to high temperatures in the 80's, and from morning lows in the 70's to the 50's.

The image above shows our morning lows from earier today. Most areas bottomed out in the lower 50's, with a few areas briefly touching the upper 40's.

With a cool and dry airmass in place, the next couple of mornings will see similar readings. That means you might actually need that windbreaker or sweater when you head out the door in the morning to work or school.

The cold front that brought in the cooler and drier air came from a big shift in our overall weather pattern.

Right now, we have a big dip in the jetstream across the eastern half of the United States. It is that big dip or trough, that has brought down some Canadian air into East Texas.

The good news is that this weather pattern will not budge much for the next several days.

This not only means more clear nights and sunny afternoons, but also means no tropical systems will invade the western Gulf.

We currently have another tropical depression, which formed earlier today in the Caribbean. We don't have to worry about that depression heading our way as the trough of low pressure across the Southeast U.S. will help steer that system into Florida and areas along the Atlantic seaboard.

If you have the opportunties to make outdoor plans (play golf, tennis, etc), go ahead and do it over the next week and a half or so.

After all, this weather pattern will eventually change. It will just come later rather than sooner.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New HD Look Coming to Your TV Soon

With fall just days away, we are very aware that usually means change is on the way. Even though it is still very warm and humid, fall indicates that fronts and cooler weather are in the offing.

Our weather department at KTRE-TV 9 will be undergoing some change as well.

Over the past few weeks, I have been in training with some of the newest and greatest weather graphics there are to offer.

On Thursday, we are set to debut our new HD look on air for the first time. You will notice a different look and feel to the weather graphics once they hit the airways.

I want to preface HD by saying that even though our news and weathercasts won't be in HD, it is HD compatible, meaning that when we decide to transition to HD, we will be all set to flip the switch.

This new graphic system will have many of the same features you have come to know and love over the years. However, it also has more bells and whistles, so some items will look and be displayed in a different format.

Right now, we are working out the technical side of things with our graphics and engineering department. I can't wait to debut the new look and I'm sure you will be excited about what it has to offer.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hermine Leaves Her Mark on the Lone Star State

It was anything but ordinary when it came to the weather across the state of Texas this past week.

Flooding rains and even tornadoes greeted residents across much of North and South Central Texas, thanks to Tropical Storm Hermine.

Even though Hermine was just a tropical storm, she left her impact felt in more ways than one.

Here are some of the impressive rainfall totals from select cities across the state.

Georgetown, TX 15.62"
Killeen, TX 12.38"
Austin, TX 11.95"
Fort Worth, TX 7.48"
Houston, TX 4.47"

Here in East Texas, we picked up anywhere from 1-3" of rain, which certainly helped out our rainfall deficit.

This storm goes to show you that you don't need a major hurricane to cause widespread flooding and damage across a region. Sometimes it is the smaller, less intense storms, that can be just as dangerous.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Hermine Means Beneficial Rainfall for East Texas

After a sunny and beautiful weekend, the moisture and rain has surged back into East Texas, all ahead of Tropical Storm Hermine.

Hermine formed early this morning and is situated about 125 miles to the southeast of Brownsville, Texas.

There is a small chance Hermine could briefly strengthen into a category one hurricane before landfall, but due to its close proximity to land, it is not likely.

Tropical Storm Hermine is expected to make landfall later this evening in northern Mexico or extreme South Texas. She will then slow down and track to the northwest, moving through South Texas tomorrow and Central Texas on Wednesday.

It is in and near the circulation where flooding rains (4-8") could fall between now and Thursday.
Our effects from Hermine will be simple: rain showers, some of which will be heavy in the next couple of days.

While we don't anticipate the flooding rains that our friends and neighbors will see in Central and South Texas, we will still benefit from the system as waves of rain move through the Piney Woods.

Our in house computer model suggests that between now and Wednesday evening, many areas could pick up around 1-2" of rain, with some spots seeing as much as 3".

The bottom line is that Hermine is the perfect system for us to help in the rainfall department. Entering today, we were close to 6" behind in rainfall for the year.

These are the tropical systems which can put a big dent, if not erase, the deficit and put plenty of moisture back in the soils.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Hurricane Train Lining Up

Now that we are approaching the peak of hurricane season, the tropics are really starting to heat up.

Close to home, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea are quiet for the time being. However, it is a much different story further out in the Atlantic Ocean.

We have not one, but two tropical cyclones ongoing in the Atlantic, with a third area of low pressure likely to form this weekend.

Hurricane Danielle is our first major hurricane of the 2010 season, and is expected to brush Bermuda before turning northward and eventually weakening as it encounters the cooler waters of the northern Atlantic.

Behind Danielle is Tropical Storm Earl. He is expected to maintain a westward movement and could be a potential threat to the Bahamas and perhaps the east coast of the United States.

Notice that even behind Earl we have a tropical wave coming off the coast of Africa. This area of disturbed weather will more than likely become Fiona over the weekend.

I like to call the current setup you see in our satellite image "The Hurricane Train." This setup is quite common in late August through mid-September as the easterly waves coming off the coast of Africa get very active.

For now, it looks as if the Gulf of Mexico is under no threat in the foreseeable future. Hopefully we can say that another month from now.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Late Summer "Cold" Front

After several weeks of triple digit heat and numerous Heat Advisories, we may finally catch some relief, courtesy of a late summer cold (cool) front.

This cold front will not necessarily drop our temperatures significantly, but rather, lower the humidity.

You will feel the difference in this refreshing airmass by mid-week as dewpoints drop into the upper 50's and lower 60's.

If you watch my weathercasts, you know that I love to talk about dewpoints. It is a measure of the amount of moisture in the atmosphere and is tied into the relative humidity and air temperature.

So far this month, our dewpoints have been in the middle to upper 70's, making for very humid and sauna-like conditions.

With the passage of the front, those dewpoint values will drop into the lower 60's and upper 50's, a sign of the drier air filtering into East Texas.

Our Adonis computer model in the image above shows our dewpoint values in the upper 50's by Thursday morning. This means that when you head out the door to work or school, it will actually feel quite refreshing to take in some fresh air.

Don't get used to it, though. By the weekend, an onshore flow returns, and so does the humidity. That will give us better rain chances, which is something we could use as well.

Friday, August 13, 2010

What the Heat Index is all about

Over the past couple of weeks, you have heard us talk about the dangerous heat levels across East Texas. Even though the air temperatures have only been around 100, it is the heat index, or feels like temperature, that has made it very uncomfortable to be outdoors.

The heat index is what we call the "apparent" temperature in addition to the feels like temperature. This value is calculated by taking into account both the actual air temperature and the humidity.

When you go outside, your body is trying to cool down, not from the air temperature, but from the heat index all-together. Our heat indices have been running from 107-112° during the heating of the day.

Anyting over 105° is dangerous and anything over 110° is when it becomes a reality that heat fatigue and possible heat exhaustion could set in.

The chart above is a heat index chart, calculating the feels like temperature when taking into account the air temperature and relative humidity.

To show you just how important the humidity plays a role in our feels like temperatures, take this scenario. If we had an air temperature of 96° with 50% humidity, it would give us a heat index value of 108°. On the other hand, let's say the temperature was 100° with 40% humidity. The heat index in this case would be about the same.

The bottom line is it can be just as dangerous to have temperatures a few degrees lower, but with slightly higher humidity values than higher temperatures and lower humidity values.

That is why when we show you the heat index on the air, it is a better representation of what your body has to go through in order to cool itself down.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tropical Depression #5 Takes Form in the Gulf

After a couple of days of constant shower activity just off the coast of Florida, Hurricane Reconnaisance finally found a closed low at the surface late this afternoon.

That was enough to allow our fifth depression to form this 2010 season.

This depression will move to the west-northwest in the days ahead. It will more than likely become Tropical Storm Danielle sometime during the day on Wednesday as it strengthens even furthur.

The image to your left shows our different computer model projections as to where this system will go.

The one thing that stands out is that most of them converge the storm on the Louisiana coastline on Thursday afternoon. Even if the storm track is slightly off, it should remain to our east, keeping us on the drier (cleaner) side of the system.

At this point in time, we don't expect T.D. #5 to become anything stronger than a tropical storm. Even though the sea surface temperatures are very warm in the Gulf, wind shear will remain high, keeping this system from forming into a hurricane.

This wind shear was the same thing that really destroyed Bonnie just about three weeks ago in that same position. While this system may be stronger, it will be a minimal tropical storm at best as it approaches the Gulf coast states.

Our impacts back here at home will just be a few rain showers wrapping around the counterclockwise circulation. Due to the position of the storm, it may not be big enough to allow our Heat Advisories to expire.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

NOAA Releases Updated Hurricane Forecast

After two full months in the 2010 hurricane season, things have gotten off to a fairly quiet start. We have only seen one hurricane (Alex), and two very weak tropical storms in Bonnie and Colin.

NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration) had forecasted a very active hurricane season in late May. In case you forgot, here was their official forecast.

Named Storms: 14-23
Hurricanes: 8-14
Major Hurricanes: 3-7

Earlier today, NOAA released their updated forecast for the remainder of the 2010 season. Here are the updated results.

Named Storms: 14-20
Hurricanes: 8-12
Major Hurricanes: 4-6

The one thing that stands out is that they are still calling for a very active year. The only thing that was trimmed back was the upper bound part of the range. This was due to the fact we have not seen as many storms develop early in the season.

Don't let the slow start fool you. Keep in mind that we are now beginning to enter the peak part of hurricane season. The time period from mid-August through the end of September is the most active time for tropical systems to develop, with the peak occuring around September 10th.

The combination of warmer than normal sea surface temperatures and a relaxing of the upper level winds (wind shear), leads climatologists to believe the tropics will be heating up very soon.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Largest Hailstone in U.S. History Just Recorded

A week ago, on Friday, July 23, 2010, a severe thunderstorm hit the town of Vivian, South Dakota. That storm ended up not only producing hail, but the largest hailstone to ever be recorded as long as records have been kept.

The hailstone, as seen on the left, was an amazing 8" in diameter and weighed 1.9 lbs.

The previous record for the largest hailstone recorded occured back in 2003 in Aurora, Nebraska, when a hailstone measured 7" in diameter.

To give you some perspective on how big that hailstone was, here is a chart comparing hail size to a real object.

1.75"---Golf ball
8.00"--Vivian, SD hailstone this past week.

If you had to put a description of how big 8" diameter hail is, it is roughly the size of a volleyball.

Golf ball size hail can put small dents in your car and cause minor roof damage. Baseball size hail can put holes in your windshield, do severe damage to your vehicle, and completely ruin your roof.

Just imagine the kind of damage the size of this hailstone could do?

So how can hail become that big? It ultimately depends on the updraft of a thunderstorm, or how fast air is rising based on a very unstable atmosphere.

Below is a brief chart of how strong the updraft speed has to be in order to generate these large hail cores.

Hail Size: Updraft Speed:
Baseball 90 mph
Softball 110 mph
Soccer ball 190 mph

The bottom line is in order for a thunderstorm to produce large hail, you need a very unstable atmosphere and very cold air in the mid to upper levels of the atmosphere. As air rises, it cools and condenses into water droplets. If the vertical motion is strong enough, some of these droplets can freeze and combine with other water molecules to form hail.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hottest Stretch of Weather Headed our Way

With plenty of tropical moisture and slightly above normal rainfall for the months of June and July, temperatures were not as hot as they could have been.

We will finally get a taste of what real summers feel like in East Texas by this weekend as a big dome of high pressure settles in over the Southern Plain states.

Underneath these areas of high pressure, you get a lot of sinking air. When you compress air, it heats up.

It's often like airing up a bicycle tire. After you compress the air in your tire and take out the pump, the tire feels hot. The same process is what happens when areas of high pressure set up overhead in the summer time.

While the heat will be present, the rain showers will be virtually non-existent. That sinking air will limit the cloud development and keep the showers from forming during the afternoon hours.

We will see upper 90's on Friday, followed by triple digit heat by the time we head towards Sunday and Monday of next week.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Not Much Left of Bonnie

Bonnie has been downgraded from a tropical storm to a tropical depression this evening. The biggest factor for this weakening system has been very strong winds in the upper levels of the atmosphere.

These strong winds are shearing apart the cloud tops, preventing Bonnie from getting organized and strengthening.

This is certainly good news for residents along the Gulf coast, who now just will only have to deal with rain and nothing more.

The image above shows the latest forecast track from the National Hurricane Center. Notice how thin the cone is in the track. That narrow range in the cone represents high confidence in the forecast track, something we like to see.

It appears that Bonnie will make its second landfall late Saturday evening or early Sunday morning between Mobile, AL and Morgan City, LA.

By being west of the low pressure center, that will put us on the back side of the system, giving us some tropical rain showers.

Here is a timeline of what we can expect from this system here in Deep East Texas

Saturday: Hot and humid with an isolated shower late.

Sunday: Increasing clouds with rain becoming more numerous, especially during the afternoon hours.

Monday: Lingering tropical moisture will continue to provide locally heavy downpours.

Have a great weekend and remember to check our Hurricane Center for the latest updates on Bonnie.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tropical Storm Bonnie

Earlier this afternoon, Tropical Depression #3 was upgraded to Tropical Storm Bonnie.

At this time the storm is very disorganized and is encountering some wind shear on the west side of the system. As you can see from the satellite image, most of the showers and storms are displaced along the northeast side of the low pressure center.

Bonnie will continue on its westward track and has its sights set on the Gulf of Mexico.

This is not good news for the horizon oil spill sight, which will be impacted by the storm, regardless of whether or not Bonnie moves directly overhead. As of late this afternoon, the U.S. government ordered ships to evacuate the oil spill, as heavy rain and gusty winds are expected to arrive by Friday evening.

The big question everyone has is 'where will Bonnie go?'

According the the official forecast track from the National Hurricane Center, Bonnie looks to be a threat along the Gulf coast states. She could make landfall anywhere from the mouth of the Mississippi to as far west as the upper Texas coast.

Notice that we are in the forecast cone of uncertainty. Keep in mind that this forecast cone will shift over the next few days as computer models try to get a better handle on the storm and the steering currents coming into play.

Nevertheless, you should be monitoring this storm closely as we head into the weekend. Even if it does not strengthen into a hurricane, we could still feel some of Bonnie's effects in the form of heavy rain and gusty winds.

Make sure you check out our Hurricane Center to get the latest updates 24/7 on the storm. We will continue to provide extensive coverage on KTRE-TV as well, keeping you informed with the latest information.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tropical Trouble?

After a quiet couple of weeks in the tropics, things might be showing signs of heating up once again.

The latest tropical wave we are monitoring is producing heavy rain and gusty winds over Hispaniola, and Puerto Rico.

This flare up of showers and storms, as seen on the satellite image, is a sign that this wave is beginning to get better organized.

Even though it is not yet a named storm, that may change in the next couple of days as environmental conditions are favorable for development.

Hurricane Reconnaissance is scheduled to investigate this system on Wednesday. If they find a low level circulation at the surface, it could become a tropical depression by as early as tomorrow afternoon.

The one thing that may hamper this system is the fact it will be interacting with all the islands in the Greater Antilles. That could keep the storm disorganized, and ultimately, keep it from strengthening.

Make sure you keep it tuned to KTRE-TV and ktre.com. If this tropical wave strengthens into a tropical storm or hurricane, it will be given the name Bonnie.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Back to the July Fry

After getting the month of July off to a cloudy and wet start, we will be settling back into reality this week.

By reality, I mean temperatures getting up into the upper 90's with heat index values in the 105-108° range.

Our heat will be returning in large part because of a ridge of high pressure that will be building across the Southern Plain states by mid-week.

As I've said several times, when you get high pressure in the mid-levels in the atmosphere during the summer months, that means hot and dry weather will prevail.

This high pressure ridge means the air temperatures aloft are very warm. This warm air prevents the clouds from building into afternoon rain showers. It puts a "lid" or "cap" on the atmosphere and keeps those cooling, afternoon rain showers from forming.

As the air sinks, it also heats up. You can think of this sinking air like airing up a bicycle tire. When you add air to the tire, you are compressing the air. As a result, the air heats up. That's why the tire is hot when you get done airing it up.

The same scenario plays out in the atmosphere when you get strong high pressure aloft.

In the meantime, plan on turning your sprinkler systems back on later this week, because your yards will be thirsting for some water.

After all, this ridge will steer any rainmakers well away from us over the next 5 to 7 days.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Does this look familiar?

For the second week in a row, we have seen more clouds and less sun. We've also seen tropical downpours move through East Texas, dumping heavy amounts of rain.

Last week it was due to Alex, and all the moisture wrapping around that broad hurricane.

This week, we have the same song, just a different verse.

The tropical rain showers we have experienced over the past couple of days has come from a tropical low over Louisiana and an upper low over the lower Texas coast.

There is also a tropical wave that could develop into a depression or tropical storm by Thursday. That area of low pressure is shown in the image above, approaching northern Mexico and South Texas.

Regardless if that wave develops or not, we will still see plenty of moisture thrown in our direction, which will provide us with another round of heavy downpours.

With the above normal rainfall in the past week, we have been able to put a dent in our rainfall deficit. Just a week and a half ago, we had a deficit of -8.75". That deficit has been trimmed to -4.78", nearly erasing half of it.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Alex was unique in more ways than one.

Hurricane Alex made landfall on Wednesday, June 30, 2010, near Soto La Marina, Mexico, or about 110 miles south of Brownsville, TX.
It made landfall as a category 2 hurricane with winds of 105 mph.
While Alex was not a major hurricane, it is historic in a couple of perspectives.
Alex became the first June hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico since Hurricane Allison hit Florida 15 years ago, in 1995. We typically don't see hurricanes in the Gulf, this early in the season. So the fact we had a category 2 hurricane was unprecedented.
It was also the second strongest June hurricane since Alma, all the way back in 1966.
The most remarkable stat, however, was the pressure of Hurricane Alex. As it neared landfall it had a pressure of 947 mb. That pressure is typically seen when hurricanes are at a strong category 3 or weak category 4 status.
If you compare Alex to Hurricane Audrey, a category 3 hurricane that made landfall in Sabine Pass in 1957, it is almost identical. Audrey's pressure was 945 mb and had winds of 130 mph.
Alex had nearly the same pressure, but winds of only 105 mph.
So why the discrepancy in wind speeds if pressures were nearly the same? As I like to say, all hurricanes are different and take on their own characteristics.
Since Alex was such a broad storm, its winds were spread out over a large area. We saw the same thing a couple of years ago when Hurricane Ike made landfall as a strong category 2 storm.