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.