Pay attention to the weather if you are out and about

WeatherMap: Severe storms Friday Night

National Weather Service

It has been a long while since we have had any significant weather to deal with in our part of Texas - really since Imelda back in September. However the atmosphere will become less benign in the next 24 hours giving us our first taste of severe weather (not including flooding) since last May. I won't get into the nitty-gritty of why storms are going to happen, however it is worth noting that the type of dynamic atmospheric set up being foretasted would be noteworthy even in "severe weather season" (ie the spring), no less in January. Will this be the apocalypse? No. However, it has been a long time since we have seen storms as strong as the ones being forecasted, and the timing (Friday night) makes it significant as it will be dark and people are more likely to be out and about. So lets get to it:

What: A strong storm system will be making its way across Texas on Friday with the atmosphere being primed out ahead of it with strong winds off the Gulf pumping ample warmth and moisture into the area. As this storm system approaches storms there will likely be two phases of storms we need to watch out for.

Phase 1 will be individual storms that manage to form during the late afternoon or early evening on Friday. While the odds of this happening are less than the storms in Phase 2, impacts could be just as, if not more, severe *if* it happens. These Phase 1 storms would be what are called discreet supercells. These are storms that exist on their own, not part of a larger line or blob. It is with these storms that large hail and a strong tornado is *possible*. Again, while there is good certainty that if they can develop they could be significant, there is a high level of uncertainty that they will develop. It is the storms in Phase 2 that will likely affect everyone. So lets move on to those:

Phase 2 storms will come in the form of an intense squall line moving from west to east across the area. The hail potential in these storms will be limited, however there is a rather significant risk of high winds (70-80 MPH+) and isolated tornadoes (weaker than what you would see from Phase 1 storms, but a tornado none the less). Also, the lightning will probably be spectacular. Let me speak to the Phase 2 tornado threat for a moment. Often with an intense line of storms small "kinks" can develop in the line causing rotation and a tornado. Usually the resulting tornado is very short lived (sometimes so fast it appears and disappear before the radar can spot it) and "relatively" weak, meaning weaker than its great plains cousins. However these types of tornadoes still pose a danger particularly to those caught outside or in a car. Make sure you have a way to receive warnings (ie. your phone), especially if you plan to be out Friday night.



Model simulated radar for Midnight Friday nightWeathermodels.com


When: Phase 1 storms, if they develop, would be some time during the late afternoon or early evening, but would be widely scattered. Phase 2 should push into the area as an intense line of storms somewhere between 11 PM and 2 AM

Where: Phase 1 would likely affect those further north and east. Phase 2 storms will get everyone. Again, it is not guaranteed that the part of the line that moves over your exact location will have damaging winds or a tornado, but no one is completely safe from that either.

While rain may be hard enough to cause very isolated spots of high water, the storms will be moving far to quickly to cause any real flood issues. After the storms move through this weekend looks great.

If anything changes I will be back with an update - and as always you can find me on Twitter @stephenuzick

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A new hotel is in the works near Minute Maid. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Astros owner Jim Crane says the team is ready to break ground on a major construction project that will include a hotel and entertainment complex across the street from Minute Maid Park as soon as the 2023 baseball season wraps up – hopefully with another World Series parade in downtown Houston.

AstrosWorld!

But another hotel? Another entertainment complex? More construction downtown? My first reaction was, how much more does Houston need? I remember when the Super Bowl was held in Houston in 2004, clubs and restaurants sprung up downtown practically overnight, only to disappear virtually the morning after. When it came to downtown development, the expression “less is more” turned out true. At least that Super Bowl.

I asked my contacts in government and the Houston welcome wagon, is this a good idea, building a hotel and entertainment complex next door to Minute Maid Park? Do we need it? Can we sustain it?

The answer every time was a resounding yes! For a couple of reasons: first, downtown Houston, coming out of Covid, is booming, leadership is creative and budget-minded these days, and most important, if Jim Crane is behind the idea, you can trust it’ll work. The guy’s got a track record.

“In 2004, the idea was to turn downtown’s Main Street into Bourbon Street. Is that what we really want? It was a misguided plan, the wrong philosophy, and businesses opened and closed in short order,” a source told me.

It was a different story when the Super Bowl returned to Houston in 2017. This time Houston saw the Marriott Marquis, a 1,000-room hotel complete with an iconic Texas-shaped swimming pool, open in time for the tourist onslaught. Also, Avenida Houston greeted downtown visitors with new restaurants and entertainment venues. Both the Marriott and Avenida Houston have continued to thrive long after the Super Bowl left town.

“We want our downtown to attract visitors while providing services for the growing number of singles and families who are making their home downtown. As we continue to host major events and conventions, there will be a need for more hotel rooms,” the source said.

The Astros’ plan to build a sprawling hotel and entertainment complex originally was discussed in 2021 but was put on hold due to Covid. Now Crane and the Astros are ready to come out swinging. Similar complexes operate successfully next to the baseball stadium in St. Louis, Chicago and other cities.

An Astros-themed hotel adjacent to Minute Maid Park is particularly intriguing. The lobby could be home to an Astros museum and team Hall of Fame. Rooms and restaurants could be decorated in honor of Astros legends – the “Nolan Ryan honeymoon suite,” or “Strech Suba’s Bullpen Bar and Grille.” There could be meeting space for autograph and memorabilia shows. There could be a broadcast facility for post-game interviews and analysis. And maybe one day, fingers crossed, a betting parlor like the Cubs have at Wrigley Field.

The Astros have a contract to play at Minute Maid Park through 2050 – the only long-term contract that doesn’t make Crane cringe. Anything that enhances the fan experience and generates revenue is good for the team and the city. I might even consider going downtown on non-game nights.

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