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Houston goes into vintage summer mode, but there is hope for next week

Weathermodels.com

With Barry now out of the picture we return to our regularly scheduled summer misery. I wish I had better news to report but over the next few days our weather looks to be right on track with what you would expect from mid to late July in Houston.

Today and tomorrow we will be firmly under the grasp of an area of high pressure. High pressure on its own means hot temperatures in the summer, but for the next couple of days our area will be on the western side of the high pressure center which will bring our winds in from off the Gulf. This means even more humidity. Despite the air being very moist the area of high pressure (ie sinking air) will put a clamp down on our usual afternoon thunderstorm chances, so don't expect much relief in the form of rain. These higher humidity levels will push our heat index up into the 103-108 range over the next few days so take it easy outside. Yes, it is uncomfortable, but no, it is not out of the ordinary for July.

Forecast heat index for the area. Yes it will be uncomfortableWeathermodels.com

Now on to the good news. This weekend that high slides away from us opening up the possibility for a couple of cooling rain showers. It will still be hot and humid, but maybe not quite AS hot and humid as today and Friday.

In even better news, the forecast appears to be advertising the possibility of a weak front sliding though around the middle of next week. I'm not going to call it a cold front because the effect on our temperatures will be minimal. However, it does signify a shift in wind direction to the north which could at least provide a respite from oppressive humidity. This certainly isn't a guaranteed outcome, but it is something to keep a watch for.

Finally in case you were wondering we are approaching the top of the plateau for what is on average the hottest time of the year. Not surprisingly the end of July through mid-late August represent what is normally the hottest time of the year for us. I know this isn't news to anyone but just keep in mind that we are almost to the peak and in about a month averages will be beginning the trek back down hill. Again, I know this isn't breaking news but sometimes seeing it on a chart makes it seem not as bad.


National Weather Service Houston/Galveston


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weathermodels.com

Last time we spoke the miserable heat wave that has now brought six consecutive days with temperatures at or above 100 degrees was just beginning. While Houston obviously gets hot, this stretch of consecutive days over 100 is fairly uncommon. As bad as the days have been the nights have actually been worse as the sustained daytime heat makes it harder for the air to cool off at night as heat absorbed by the ground, and particularly concrete, during the day continues to be released from the ground at night. I am happy to say though that it appears we are reaching the end of this particular hot streak. Congratulations, you survived.

The area of high pressure, also known as the "Death Ridge," is moving off to the west which will bring in a bit of a northerly wind flow and a weak front. I hesitate to call it a front as it won't change the air-mass much. Rather, it is more of a boundary that could provide a focusing mechanism for some rain. Today and tomorrow will bring us the best chance of rain we have seen in a while, which is sorely needed after the baking we have endured. While I don't think everyone will see rain the next couple of days there should at least be enough rain and clouds around to keep temperatures in the mid 90's instead of over 100.

Rain finally returns. Simulated radar this evening.weathermodels.com

Into the weekend rain chances will go down but not disappear entirely. Instead we will be going back to our more normal summer programming with a few afternoon storms here and there.

How Much More Summer:

Now that we are all thoroughly sick of the heat I decided to take a look to see what the averages say as to how much longer we have to go until things start cooling off. Looking at data from Hobby Airport compiled over the past 70 years I found the following:

  • Average date of last 95+ degree day: September 6th
  • Average date of last 90+ degree day: October 7th
  • Average first date with low temperature of 65 degrees or below: September 18th
  • Average first date with low temperature of 60 degrees or below: September 28th

Keep in mind that these dates are just averages, but it does show that we only have about a month to month and a half left of real summer misery. Yes, heat can sometimes last well into October, but the light is starting to appear at the end of this tunnel, just hold on a little longer.

Hurricane Season Update:

We are entering what is typically the peak of hurricane season but the Atlantic and Gulf are still dead. Part of this is because there is still a good amount of saharan dust out in the Atlantic, indicative of hot dry air in the upper atmosphere which inhibits any potential storm growth. The law of averages would say that things will get churning at some point in the Atlantic Basin over the next month or so but as of now the computer models are not sniffing anything out.

Oranges an reds indicate Saharan dust in the atmosphere over the Atlantic.CIMSS/Univ. Wisconsin

Mailbag:

Since the weather has been quite lately I am opening up the WeatherMap mailbag. Tweet any of your weather related questions to @stephenuzick.

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