Thursday, September 22, 2011

Drought Could Persist Through The Winter

The weather phenomena known as "La Nina" has been responsible for our worst drought in Texas history as well as the hottest summer on record.

La Nina is associated with cooler than normal waters in the equatorial Pacific Ocean that alter the weather patterns around the world.

The image shows the cooler than normal sea surface temperatures by the shading of blue.

These below average water temperatures bare bad news for Texas, as it means warmer and drier conditions than normal.

What made the 2010-2011 La Nina worse was the fact we had a "strong" La Nina. That meant that not only were we in a drought, but we had an "exceptional" drought. That ended up leading to 63 days of 100° temperatures as the dry and parched soils lead to unsusually hot weather.

What happens during a La Nina phase is the Jet stream configures itself in a way that keeps Gulf of Mexico and Pacific moisture out of the state. Therefore, when fronts blow through East Texas, we see very little rain and low humidity.

Prognostications Not Good

According to NOAA and Texas state climatologist Dr. Nielsen Gammon, La Nina is expected to continue through the fall season and very well could last through the winter months as well.

The big question is whether or not La Nina will weaken to a moderate or slight phase or remain the same. Regardless of the phase, this news does not bode well for East Texans or anyone else in the state for that matter.

The impacts could be even more devastating if we continue to see below normal rainfall and very little moisture over the next 3 to 6 months.

You can click here to read the full article on what our state climatologist, Dr. John Nielsen Gammon has to say about the climate outlook as we move forward this year.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Receiving Some Precious Liquid Gold

An upper level trough combined with a weak cold front to generate some much needed rain for all Deep East Texas over the past couple of days.

The rain came in several waves. One wave came on Saturday evening, where parts of the area received some moderate rain showers.

The second wave came Sunday morning, where scattered showers and isolated storms woke many of you up and provided some nice rainfall to start your day.

Then came the last and final round that occurred overnight Sunday and into early Monday morning. This last batch of rain was the heaviest and also came in the form of some strong thunderstorms as the actual cold front sweeped through the area.

When you add it all up, there were several areas that picked up over an inch of rain, with most areas receiving at least a half inch and some spots getting over 2 inches.

Here is a graphic that shows all the rainfall totals over the weekend, as reported by our loyal weather watchers. Feel free to click on the image to see it in better detail.

This one and a half day rainfall event was the most we had seen since June 21st and June 22nd, when 1-2" of rain were quite common across the Piney Woods.

It should be noted that we still have a rain deficit for the month and an 11.59" deficit for the year. Please refrain from doing any outdoor burning and note that the fire threat is still high, despite the fact we received some much needed rain.

Unfortunately, rain chances are dwindling quickly and the forecast looks fairly dry for the next five to seven days.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Cold Front Means Relief For East Texans

After enduring 4 consecutive days of record breaking heat and several wildfires flaring up each afternoon, it seems that Mother Nature will finally give in and provide East Texans with a much deserved break.

Our relief will be in the form of a cold front that is currently moving through East Texas as we speak.

While we won't necessarily receive a ton of rain, there will still be isolated showers that develop over the Pineywoods over the next couple of days. We will also see some added cloud cover, that when combined with the cooler air moving in, will keep temperatures in the middle to upper 80's.

Our wind forecast shows where the front will be positioned on Friday morning. Notice the wind direction is from the east and northeast. That northeasterly component is what will bring in the cooler temperatures and push all the warm air further south.

Even though we will see a drop in the temperatures here in Deep East Texas, it won't be as sharp of a drop as what they are expecting in the Panhandle of Texas and in Oklahoma.

The map to your right shows the forecasted highs for later today. Notice that Amarillo is only looking for a high of 58° and Oklahoma City will only make 62°. It will still remain hot for South Central Texas due to the fact that the front will not make it to their area until later tonight.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Record Setting Summer Still Going

After a week of cooler temperatures, the heat has returned to Deep East Texas as a ridge of high pressure builds in overhead.

We have now hit the century mark a record 60 times so far this summer, and will continue to add to that total yet again today and possibly on Wednesday as well.

An exceptional drought means the extreme heat will continue due to the dry fuels in place across the entire Texas Forest Country.

Fire Threat Still High

The ongoing threat for wildfires will only be increasing over the next couple of days as the wind speeds pick up out of the west-southwest at 10 to 15 mph. These breezy conditions will only dry things out even more, causing the relative humidity to be in the 10-15% range. That is not a combination you want to see when we have already seen several wildfires flare up over the past several days.

Our Futurecast computer model shows the wind forecast at Wednesday evening at 7pm. Notice the wind arrows are blowing from south to north. The winds will have a westerly component as well, which is a dry wind that heats up the atmosphere very rapidly.

Don't let your eyes fool you...that blue triangle feature you see on the map is a cold front that will push into East Texas late this week. This front will bring back slight rain chances to the forecast and will drop temperatures back down into the lower 90's.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Nate Will Neglect Texas, Just Like Don and Lee Did

For the third time in this 2011 Atlantic hurricane season, we have a tropical storm which has formed in the Gulf of Mexico. Unfortuantely, Tropical Storm Nate will not provide East Texas with any substantial rain to help the ongoing wildfires and drought status for the Pineywoods.

The image to your right shows that Nate will be headed due west and into Mexico sometime on Sunday afternoon.

Because Nate will be so far south of Texas, we will not see any rain make it up in this direction. As a result, look for more dry conditions with the fire threat still remaining high, even though wind speeds won't be as strong this weekend.

A ridge of high pressure, currently situated over Mexico, will be building over the state of Texas late this weekend. It is this high pressure ridge which will keep Tropical Storm Nate well south of Texas, while at the same time, allow the heat to start building once again.

We will see morning lows creep back up into the 60's this weekend, with daytime highs climbing back up into the middle 90's. Don't look now, but next week will be even hotter, as upper 90's return to Deep East Texas.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tracking the Fires on Satellite

One of the benefits of satellite and radar is not only can they detect clouds and rain, but they can also pick up on other objects in the atmosphere.

Our high resolution satellite was able to show some of the ongoing wildfires across East Texas this afternoon. You can clearly see the whispy white colors fanning off to the south. That is the smoke plumes fanning off from the source of where the actual wildfires were burning earlier today.

I have labeled the wildfire locations with a red dot as seen on the image above.

While the winds will subside tonight, look for them to pick back up a bit again on Wednesday. The wind speeds will be on the order of 10 to 15 mph the next couple of days, especially in the afternoon hours. Because the wind direction will be from the north, that means the smoke plumes will be moving in a southerly direction the next few days.

Keep checking back with to stay up-to-date with all the fire developments in Deep East Texas. There is also a very useful link tied into the Texas Forest Service, which shows the ongoing fires across the state. You can view that link by clicking here.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Rain Chances Still There For Today and Sunday

While we have not seen any rain in Deep East Texas up to this point, we still have a chance for receiving some of that wet stuff later today and then again on Sunday as Tropical Storm Lee moves onshore along the Louisiana coast.

The latest satellite image shows mid and high level clouds drifting into East Texas this morning. Our StormTracker Live Doppler Network is showing a batch of light rain now moving westward and spreading into Jasper, Newton, and Sabine counties.

As we have reiterated the past few days, areas in and near the Sabine River and Toledo Bend will have the best chance of receiving rainfall. Lufkin and Nacogdoches will have about a 2 in 5 chance (40%) of getting some rain this afternoon, while areas west of Highway 59 will have only a 20% chance of rain. As Tropical Storm Lee moves onshore Sunday morning, we will still have about the same odds of getting wet for tomorrow.

Since the state of Texas is on the backside of the system, we will not see the heavy, soaking rains that many of you wanted. It does, however, beat the weather they are seeing in southern Louisiana, where flooding and numerous tornado warnings are currently in place.