PUCK YES?

What the Seattle NHL expansion might mean for Houston

Hockey in Houston? Don't laugh; it could happen. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Seattle will be the National Hockey League's 32nd team, and will begin play in 2020-21. But there is a lot of buzz that Houston might get a relocated franchise, presumably from the Pacific Division, to balance out the West. As of now, the Pacific Division would have nine teams, the Central seven. Pretty simple math. So the NHL might do some Game of Thrones like moving and change allegiances and rivalries. (Stick with me, this will make sense at the end).

There have been two teams mentioned as possibilities:

  1. The Calgary Flames. I hate this. Teams should never be taken out of Canada. In fact, there should be more. Canada is hockey heaven, and Calgary is a fantastic city. The problem is they play in a dilapidated stadium, and the city has refused to put any money in a new barn. It's exacerbated by the fact the rival Edmonton has one of the best new palaces in all of hockey. The hope here is a move to Houston is just a threat, and that the city eventually comes up with something. However, they just voted down an Olympic bid, so a new stadium might not be in the cards. It would ruin one of the great rivalries - the battle of Alberta - but from a competitive standpoint, this is a pretty damned interesting team. Maybe it's my inner Canadian speaking, but I would be disappointed if this were to become the Houston team. On the flip side, the oil industry brings a lot of Calgary natives to the city, so there would already be at least some fan base in place. (I am about to visit Saskatchewan next week, with a stop on the way through the greatest hockey city in the world, Toronto, and a trip back through Calgary on the way home). I love Calgary and want to see the Flames thrive there.
  2. The Arizona Coyotes. This one seems more likely. They have ownership issues. Stadium issues. It is a shame, because when the team was actually in Phoenix and not Glendale, the attendance was solid. This should be a much better market, and in a perfect world they would sort out the ownership problems and get back to Phoenix. It has already been reported that they are going to move to the Central, but if Calgary was the team to move to Houston, that's an easy flop because it does not have to happen for two years.

Would it work in Houston?

I am biased, but I believe it would. There are a lot of transplants here. That does not mean Blackhawks fans are suddenly going to become Houston Fill in the Blanks fans, but they will go to games.

A Houston team in a Central Division would have a natural rivalry with Dallas, and would join Chicago, St. Louis, Minnesota, Nashville, Winnipeg and Colorado in a very well designed Central Division. The Coyotes have some young talent, will likely have another high pick this season and could be fun by the time it happens. (Yes, I know they are playing well now, but hard to believe they can sustain it).

And if they are good...well we know Houston is a front-running town. Casual fans would get behind it. Remember how packed Toyota Center was for the Aeros playoffs?

Ideally, a team like Carolina or Florida would be the one to move, but there is no easy way to realign that group into a Central that makes sense. Regardless, Seattle getting a team is not bad news for Houston. There is a lot of smoke out there, so maybe there is some fire. A Song of Ice and Fire in Houston? (See, I told you it would make sense at the end).

It could happen.

Weathermodels.com

Late July is generally one of the quietest times for our local weather. Barring tropical systems, typically at this point the summer pattern has become entrenched with high temperatures and very few atmospheric triggers for rain aside from the occasional afternoon thunderstorm sparked by the sea-breeze. This is what makes the weather situation this week exceptionally unique. If you have not heard by now, we are expecting a fairly robust front (by July standards) to push through here today which will make the next couple of days a treat. I suppose technically it is a cold front but there really isn't much real cold behind it, but none the less it is a refreshing front which will bring noticeably lower humidity and make mornings and evenings absurdly comfortable (again, by July standards).

As the front makes its way through today rain and a few storms will be possible, but nothing that will be too serious. Most of us could use the rain as the area by and large, has been dry since the beginning of the month. Today you may not really notice a whole lot of change from this front, but come Wednesday morning you certainly will. Wednesday and Thursday morning dew point temperatures will drop into the 50s for many spots except for maybe the immediate coast. Correspondingly the actual temperatures will fall into the upper 60s in many spots especially the further from the coast you get since drier air is easier to cool down at night. During the day on Wednesday and Thursday, temperatures will still rise to about 90 degrees but it definitely won't feel as hot as the heat index will for once closely resemble the actual temperature.

A word about Dew Points.

The dew point temperature is one of the most important figures in meteorology and it gets totally shafted in weather forecasts directed to the public. Basically, the dew point is a measure of moisture in the atmosphere – and a critically important factor in forecasting things like thunderstorms, the heat index or whether we can squeeze out some snowflakes down here in the winter. Relative humidity gets all the publicity, but I find that the dew point is really a far better measure for judging how humid it feels. When the dew point is above 65 degrees it feels muggy out, and the higher it goes the stickier and more oppressive the air feels. During the summer the dew point in our area typically stays somewhere between the upper 60s and the upper 70s. Once the dew point drops into the lower 60s and into the upper 50s you can distinctly notice the air feels dryer.

Ok, so what is all this fuss about the dew point about? Well the dew point is also a fantastic measure of a cold front and especially so in July. To express how rare a front like the one we are getting this week is in July I went back and looked through the hourly dew point readings at Bush Airport (the official climate recording site for Houston) for the last 10 years. Over the 7,440 hours that make up the last 10 Julys, the dew point has been below 60 degrees for a grand total of 35 hours! And 32 of those hours happened during a two day span in 2013. This means in the past 10 Julys the dew point has been below 60, in the comfortable feeling range, just 0.47% of the time.

So with that in mind get out and enjoy the next couple of days because it may be a very long time before we see another "comfortable" day in July.

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