New El Niño watch may be good news for Texas

The National Weather Service has issued an El Niño watch for the Pacific Ocean. El Niño is a marine phenomenon in which a band of warm water develops in the Pacific Ocean. LCRA Chief Meteorologist Bob Rose says an El Niño this year could mean more rain in Central Texas in fall 2014 and winter 2015 than usual. Check out Rose’s latest weather video blog for more details.

 

 

Bob's Blog on Central Texas Weather

A Very Slight Chance for Rain this Weekend. Dry and Warm Next Week.
Friday, April 18, 2014 4:56 PM

The light rain and drizzle which developed across most of Central Texas late Thursday didn't amount to all that much with most amounts totaling less than a tenth of an inch.  The weather looks to stay fairly quiet through the weekend with just a slight chance for rain expected Saturday night, Easter Sunday and on Monday.  Next week's weather is shaping up to be generally dry and warm.  Temperatures will be warmer, peaking in the mid and upper 80s mid and late week.

Here is a day by day breakdown of expected weather conditions for the next 7 days:

The sky will be partly to mostly cloudy overnight.  Low temperatures Saturday morning will be in the mid and upper 50s with light east winds at 5-10 mph.  The sky will start off partly cloudy on Saturday but will slowly become mostly cloudy in the afternoon ahead of a trough of low pressure located over the southwestern US.  This system is expected to pull clouds and moisture north from the Gulf and eastern Pacific late Saturday into Saturday night.  Saturday's weather will be dry with afternoon temperatures reaching the upper 70s.  Expect light southeasterly winds at 5-10 mph.

The trough of low pressure over the southwestern US is forecast to move to the southern Plains states between Saturday and Monday.  With the system staying that far to the north, the most favorable area for rain will likely occur across the Texas Panhandle and into Oklahoma and not across South Texas.  However, increasing moisture and weak atmospheric lift across the Hill Country and Central Texas regions is expected to cause the development of a few scattered rain showers and isolated thunderstorms beginning Saturday night, continuing through Sunday.  The chance for rain will only be at 20 percent and rain amounts will be less than a quarter inch.  Much of Easter Sunday is forecast to be just cloudy, breezy and warm.  The low temperature Sunday morning will be around 60 degrees and the high temperature Sunday will be in the upper 70s.  By the way, sunrise Sunday morning in Austin will be at 6:58 am CDT.

There will be another slight chance for rain showers and isolated thunderstorms Monday when a weak cold front sags south out of North Texas and pulls up stationary across Central Texas.  The chance for rain will again only be 20 percent and potential rain totals will be very low.  Monday's sky will be mostly cloudy and high temperatures will be in the low 80s.

National Weather Service Rainfall forecast for the period from Friday evening through Monday evening:
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Partly cloudy, warm and generally dry weather is forecast next Tuesday through Friday as a weak ridge of high pressure in the upper atmosphere sets up across Texas.  There are indications the West Texas Dry Line may surge east towards the Hill Country next Wednesday and Thursday, possibly triggering a few afternoon thunderstorms.  But confidence in this development is currently very low.  The high temperature Tuesday will be in the mid 80s.  High temperatures look to rise to the mid and upper 80s next Wednesday through Friday.

The next significant chance for rain across our region looks to occur around Monday, April 28th.  At that time, a trough of low pressure and a cold front are forecast to track east across Texas.  There are some indications cooler temperatures may return to the area around the first of May.

Have a good weekend.          

Bob

Previous Blog Entries

Mild Readings this Weekend; Turning Warmer Next Week.
Thursday, April 17, 2014 6:23 PM

On Thursday, the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center updated its 3-month drought outlook and for much of Texas, the outlook is pretty grim.  For the period from mid April through the end of July, drought conditions are forecast to persist across the western two-thirds of Texas. For areas roughly to the west of a line stretching from Victoria to Fort Worth, including the Austin area, drought conditions are forecast to persist or intensify:

DroughtOutlook.png
Areas to the east of this line are forecast to be in better shape over the next 3 months, and drought removal is expected.  CPC forecasters note the drought has become entrenched across the western two thirds of Texas and no significant change in the weather pattern is forecast in the upcoming period.  Rainfall is expected to be more substantial across the eastern third of the state.  The forecasters note enhanced odds for the development of above normal temperatures over the next 3 months, possibly causing drought conditions to intensify.  But do note that historically, the months of May and June are typically the wettest 2 months of the year across Central and South Texas and there is some thought rains over the next 2 months could help ease long-term drought conditions.

Also on Thursday, the International Research Institute in cooperation with the CPC updated the long-term outlook for the development of El Nino.  In the most recent update, the probability for the development of El Nino late this summer and fall has increased to more than 70 percent.

 

 

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This is good news for our long-term forecast.  El Ninos typically cause a pattern of above normal rainfall across most of Texas in the fall and winter seasons.  Today's updated outlook gives forecasters even greater confidence a wetter weather pattern will develop this fall and winter.  But do keep in mind that a developing El Nino in the summer often limits the development of tropical storms and hurricanes across the Atlantic basin.

A visible satellite image from Thursday afternoon showed widespread clouds covering the central part of the state with a mostly sunny sky across West and East Texas:

 

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The large area of clouds resulted from Gulf moisture being pulled north into Texas by a weak wave of low pressure located along the Red River in North Texas.  This system caused a few light rain showers across Central Texas on Thursday and some additional light sprinkles will be possible through Thursday evening.  However, all of the precipitation should end by late evening as the week disturbance exits to the east.  Low temperatures Friday morning will be in the mid and upper 50s.

By the way, note the large area of clouds located over the north central Gulf of Mexico.  These clouds are associated with a second trough of low pressure in the upper atmosphere that was located over the central Gulf.  This trough was causing the development of a widespread area of rain showers and thunderstorms over the northern Gulf.  Forecast solutions call for the trough of low pressure over the Red River Valley to combine with the trough over the Gulf of Mexico on Friday.  The combined system is forecast to produce a large area of heavy, soaking rains over the southeastern US and Florida as it tracks to the east Friday through Saturday.

Today's forecast data shows few changes in the outlook for Friday and this weekend.  A more stable weather pattern looks to develop Friday in the wake of Thursday's departing wave of low pressure.  The sky will become mostly sunny in the afternoon and the temperature will warm to the upper 70s.  But widespread clouds will return Saturday ahead of a large trough of low pressure in the upper atmosphere that will be pushing inland along the coast of southern California.  This system is forecast to track northeast, reaching a position over the southern Plains states by late Sunday.  The approaching through combined with increasing moisture will cause a very slight chance for rain showers beginning Saturday night.  A 30 percent chance for rain showers and isolated thunderstorms is forecast Easter Sunday and Sunday evening.  Today's forecast data indicates a slight chance for rain showers will linger into Monday then diminish Monday night.  The latest National Weather Service rainfall forecast continues to indicate rain totals will be low, generally at of less than 0.25 inches.  High temperatures Saturday and Sunday will be near 78-80 degrees.  High temperatures Monday will be in the low 80s.  Weekend low temperatures will be in the low and mid 60s.

Today's medium-range outlooks indicate the weather will be partly cloudy, dry and warm next Tuesday through Friday as a weak ridge of high pressure builds north across Texas.  There are some indications the West Texas Dry Line may push east out of West Texas during the middle of the week, possibly causing a few scattered thunderstorms.  But as of now, the chance for rain will be low.  High temperatures next Tuesday through Friday are shaping up to be in the upper 80s with low temperatures in the mid 60s.  Conditions don't appear favorable for rain through late next week and next weekend.

Bob

Warmer Temperatures Returning. A Slight Chance for Rain Developing this Weekend.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 6:35 PM

Temperatures were unseasonably chilly early Wednesday morning thanks to a clear sky, dry air, and light winds.  According to LCRA's Hydromet, (http://hydromet.lcra.org) temperatures fell to the mid and upper 30s across the eastern Hill Country and most of Central Texas.   A few locations even recorded temperatures below freezing.  
 
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The lowest recorded temperature was 29 degrees at 2 separate locations located in northeastern and southern Llano County.  In Austin, the low temperature at Camp Mabry was 40 degrees.  But at Austin-Bergstrom, the temperature reached 32 degrees, breaking the record of 37 degrees set in 2007.  Interestingly, light southerly winds kept temperatures across a large part of the Hill Country from dropping below the low 40s.  Across the middle Texas coast, readings generally reached the low 40s.  For example, the low temperature at Victoria was 40 degrees, tying the record of 40 degrees set in 1928.   Keep in mind, the average low temperature for the middle of April is 59 degrees.  The average high temperature is 80 degrees.

The large dome of Canadian high pressure which brought the unseasonable cool weather to Texas on Monday shifted to the East and Northeastern US this afternoon.  A clockwise circulation around the high pressure system has brought the return of southerly winds and slightly warmer temperatures.  Rising humidity levels will cause the development of widespread low clouds after midnight.  Low temperatures Thursday morning will generally be in the low and mid 50s.

Our recent spell of cool, quiet weather will be changing over the next couple of days as Gulf moisture continues to spread inland off the Gulf.  On Thursday, a small trough of low pressure tracking east across the southern Plains states will help push a weak cold front into North Texas.  Atmospheric moisture levels will increase enough ahead of the cold front to produce a few widely scattered light rain showers Thursday and Thursday night.  Rain amounts, if any, will be very low.  The sky is forecast to remain mostly cloudy Thursday with the temperature generally reaching the low and middle 70s.  Low temperatures Friday morning will be in the upper 50s.

The sky should become partly cloudy Friday as weak trough of low pressure exits to the east and the flow of Gulf moisture decreases.  Friday's temperature will climb to the upper 70s.

There appears to be another change in the weather pattern this weekend when a large trough of low pressure in the upper atmosphere tracks inland along the coast of southern California and northwestern Mexico.  This system is expected to pull moisture north from the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico into Texas, causing a mostly cloudy sky.  Saturday's weather will dry with high temperatures in the upper 70s.  Low temperatures Sunday morning will be in the low and mid 60s.  Increasing moisture and atmospheric lift associated with the approaching upper trough is forecast to cause the development of scattered rain showers and isolated thunderstorms across the area beginning Saturday night and continuing through Sunday night.  As of today, conditions don't appear favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms.  The most favorable period for rain will likely occur Sunday afternoon.  The chance for rain during this period will be near 30-40 percent.

Today's forecast data indicates the chance for rain will end late Sunday night as the upper trough exits to the east.  A broad, stable ridge of high pressure in the upper atmosphere is forecast to build north and set up over Texas all of next week.  The ridge will cause a mostly sunny to partly cloudy sky, warm temperatures and dry weather next Monday through Friday.  Daily high temperatures look to be mostly in the mid 80s with low temperatures generally in the mid 60s.  It appears the next significant chance for rain will occur sometime next weekend when another trough of low pressure tracks northeast out of Mexico.  I don't see any additional unseasonably cool weather headed our direction over the next 10 days.  It appears spring-like temperatures will really begin to set in next week.

TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE:  (Courtesy of Spaceweather.com)  On April 15th, all of the sunrises and sunsets on Earth got together and painted the Moon red. In other words, there was a total lunar eclipse. "The Moon turned a coppery orange during mid-totality," says Steve Engleman who sends this picture from Richardson, Texas:

 

 

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During the early hours of April 15th, the Moon spent more than three hours gliding through the shadow of Earth. The Moon turned red during the transit because the core of our planet's shadow is red.

Why red? A quick trip to the Moon provides the answer: Imagine yourself standing on a dusty lunar plain looking up at the sky. Overhead hangs Earth, nightside down, completely hiding the sun behind it. The eclipse is underway. 

You might expect Earth seen in this way to be utterly dark, but it's not. The rim of the planet is on fire! As you scan your eye around Earth's circumference, you're seeing every sunrise and every sunset in the world, all of them, all at once. This incredible light beams into the heart of Earth's shadow, filling it with a coppery glow and transforming the Moon into a great red orb. 

If you missed it, don't worry. Three more lunar eclipses are in the offing. Get the full story from NASA Science News, http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2014/27mar_tetrad

Bob

Midday Monday Weather Update
Monday, April 14, 2014 12:26 PM


Here is a look at expected weather conditions for this week and an outlook for next weekend and next week.

An unusually strong cold front pushed south across the area this morning bringing noticeably cooler temperatures and scattered thunderstorms.  As of late morning, the temperature was in the upper 40s across most of the Hill Country and Central Texas.  An area of strong to severe thunderstorms that developed across Central Texas earlier this morning is now moving off to the east-northeast.  Scattered thunderstorms will affect parts of Central Texas, to the southeast of Austin through mid afternoon.  Thunderstorms will affect the area south of Interstate 10 through late afternoon.  Some of these storms may be severe, producing large hail and damaging downburst winds.  For the Hill Country and the Interstate 35 corridor, the threat for rain will end early this afternoon and the sky will slowly become partly cloudy.  A strong pressure gradient behind the cold front will cause very strong and gusty northerly winds across the entire region this afternoon and evening.  Expect wind speeds of 20-30 mph with gusts to 40 mph.  The wind speed should diminish to around 10-15 mph by midnight.  Today's temperature should rebound back to the mid 50 during the mid to late afternoon.

The sky will become clear this evening as an area of Canadian high pressure begins to settle south over Texas.  Conditions will become favorable for near record low temperatures.  The National Weather Service has issued a Freeze Watch for the northern and western Hill Country where readings look to fall to the low 30s by sunrise Tuesday.  Across the rest of the Hill Country, readings are forecast to reach the low and mid 30s.  Across Central Texas, including the Austin area, low temperatures Tuesday morning look to be in the mid and upper 30s.  A few spots here may reach freezing.  Across the coastal plains region, readings should fall to the upper 30s to 40 degrees.  This will be near record cold at most all locations.  Note; the latest spring freeze observed at Austin-Camp Mabry was on April 9, 1914.  The latest freeze recorded at Austin-Bergstrom was on April 17, 1999.  Tonight's temperatures will be close to these records.

Tuesday's weather will be sunny with high temperatures in the mid 60s.  Expect a northeast wind at 5-10 mph.  It will be another very cold night across the area Tuesday night.  Low temperatures Wednesday morning will generally be in the mid and upper 30s at most location.  Some low-lying areas could again see a light freeze.

Sunny and a little warmer weather is expected Wednesday as southerly winds return to region.  Wind speeds will increase to around 10-20 mph by the afternoon.  High temperatures Wednesday will be near 70-72 degrees.  It won't be nearly as cold Wednesday night.  Lows Thursday morning will generally be in the mid 50s.

The sky is forecast to become cloud Wednesday night through Thursday as a weak trough of low pressure over the southern Plains states pulls a layer of moisture inland off the Gulf.  A couple of spotty light rain showers will be possible around the area Thursday, but most locations should stay dry.  High temperatures Thursday will generally be in the mid 70s.  Low temperatures Friday morning will be in the upper 50s.

The sky will become mostly sunny Friday as the trough of low pressure exits to the east.  Friday's temperature should reach the middle 70s.

 

 

Looking ahead to the weekend and next week, the sky is forecast to become mostly cloudy Saturday and Sunday as moisture spreads north into Texas ahead of a broad low pressure system over the southwestern US.  A slight chance for rain showers will develop Sunday into Monday with a slightly better chance for rain developing next Tuesday.  High temperatures this weekend and early next week will be near 78-80 degrees with lows in the 60s.  High temperatures for the remainder of next week should be around 80-82 degrees with lows in the 60s.

Bob

A Slight Chance for Rain Sunday into Monday. Turning Much Cooler Early Next Week.
Friday, April 11, 2014 4:59 PM

Warm, breezy and almost summer-like weather will continue on Saturday before changes in the weather pattern take place Sunday into Monday.  There will be a chance for rain and thunderstorms Sunday into Monday followed by much cooler temperatures Monday through Wednesday.  An unusually strong area of Canadian high pressure is forecast to settle south into Texas early next week.  Readings look to fall into the middle 30s across the Hill Country Tuesday and Wednesday mornings.  Upper 30s to low 40s are expected across Central Texas and middle 40s across expected across the coastal plains.  A return to more spring-like temperatures is forecast for late next week and next weekend.

Here is a look at weather conditions for the next 7 days:

Widespread low clouds will redevelop tonight and continue till about midday Saturday.  The sky will become partly to mostly cloudy Saturday afternoon.  Low temperatures Saturday morning will be in the mid 60s while high temperatures Saturday will be in the low and middle 80s.  Low temperatures Sunday morning will be mostly in the upper 60s.  Breezy conditions will continue tonight through Saturday night.  A south wind with speeds of 10-20 mph with occasional gusts to 25 mph is forecast through the period.

Two troughs of low pressure in the upper atmosphere are forecast to move across Texas Sunday into Monday.  Ahead of the first trough, considerable moisture is forecast to spread north into Texas on Sunday, producing a mostly cloudy sky.  The atmosphere is forecast to become less stable Sunday afternoon into Sunday evening, allowing for the development of scattered rain showers and isolated thunderstorms.  Although the best chance for thunderstorms is expected to occur across North and Northeast Texas, there will be a 30 to 40 percent chance for thunderstorms across much of the Hill Country and Central Texas Sunday into Sunday evening.  It's possible a few of the storms may become strong to severe, mainly along and to the east of Interstate 35, including the Austin area.  Large hail and damaging winds will be possible with some of the storms.  High temperatures Sunday will be near 80-82 degrees.

The next and most favorable period for rain is expected to occur Monday when a second trough of low pressure dives south out of the Plains states and drags a strong cold front across Texas.  The cold front is forecast to reach the northern Hill Country in the hours just before sunrise early Monday morning, pushing south across the rest of the region between sunrise and noon.  A fairly widespread area of rain showers and thunderstorms is forecast to develop along and behind the cold front Monday morning and Monday afternoon, with the rain ending Monday evening.  The chance for rain will be near 40 to 50 percent at most locations.  Breezy conditions and cooler temperatures will develop Monday behind the cold front with temperatures falling through the 60s.

Rain amounts between Sunday morning and Monday evening are not expected to be all that heavy.  The latest National Weather Service rainfall forecast calls for 2 day totals of around a quarter to a half inch from the eastern Hill Country to the coast.  Lower amounts are forecast across the western Hill Country.

National Weather Service Rainfall Forecast for the period from Friday evening through Monday evening:

 

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Clouds will clear Monday night, allowing temperatures to turn unseasonably cold.  Low temperatures Tuesday morning will include the upper 30s across the Hill Country, the low and mid 40s across Central Texas and the upper 40s across the coastal plains.  Tuesday's weather will be sunny with high temperatures in the mid and upper 60s.  The coldest night of next week is shaping up to be Tuesday night.  Low temperatures Wednesday morning will include the mid 30s across the Hill Country, the upper 30s to low 40s across Central Texas and the mid and upper 40s across the coastal plains.  Wednesday's weather will be sunny with high temperatures in the upper 60s to 70 degrees.

Weather conditions Thursday and Friday will be partly cloudy and a little warmer with high temperatures in the mid 70s and low temperatures in the 50s.  Dry and much warmer weather looks to return to the area next weekend.

Finally, I do want to mention the National Weather Service presented a drought briefing earlier this week and indicated that most of their long-range forecast models are calling for drier than normal weather conditions to persist across Texas and California during May and June.  Along with that, a trend toward warmer than normal temperatures is forecast to begin across Texas in late April and continue through May.

Have a good weekend.

Bob

 

Colorado State University Hurricane Season Outlook for 2014
Friday, April 11, 2014 3:52 PM

On Thursday, Dr. William Gray and Dr. Philip Kltoztbach of Colorado State University issued their April outlook for the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season.  In general, hurricane and tropical storm activity is expected to be below normal this season due the development of El Niño in the tropical Pacific.  Cooler than normal sea surface temperatures in the Main Development Region of the tropical Atlantic are also expected to limit tropical cyclone development.

 

Here are some highlights from the report.  The complete outlook can be found at http://hurricane.atmos.colostate.edu/Forecasts

 

EXTENDED RANGE FORECAST OF ATLANTIC SEASONAL HURRICANE ACTIVITY AND LANDFALL STRIKE PROBABILITY FOR 2014

We anticipate that the 2014 Atlantic basin hurricane season will have below-average activity compared with the 1981-2010 climatology. It appears quite likely that an El Niño of at least moderate strength will develop this summer and fall. In addition, the tropical Atlantic has anomalously cooled over the past few months. We anticipate a below-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the United States coastline and in the Caribbean. Despite the quiet forecast, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them. They are reminded to prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much or how little activity is predicted.

(as of 10 April 2014)

By Philip J. Klotzbach1 and William M. Gray2

 

ATLANTIC BASIN SEASONAL HURRICANE FORECAST FOR 2014 Forecast Parameter and 1981-2010

Median (in parentheses)

Issue Date

10 April 2014

Named Storms (NS) (12.0) 9
Named Storm Days (NSD) (60.1) 35
Hurricanes (H) (6.5) 3
Hurricane Days (HD) (21.3) 12
Major Hurricanes (MH) (2.0) 1
Major Hurricane Days (MHD) (3.9) 2
Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) (92) 55
Net Tropical Cyclone Activity (NTC) (103%) 60

PROBABILITIES FOR AT LEAST ONE MAJOR (CATEGORY 3-4-5) HURRICANE LANDFALL ON EACH OF THE FOLLOWING COASTAL AREAS:

1) Entire U.S. coastline - 35% (average for last century is 52%)

 

2) U.S. East Coast Including Peninsula Florida - 20% (average for last century is 31%)

 

3) Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle westward to Brownsville - 19% (average for last century is 30%)

 

PROBABILITY FOR AT LEAST ONE MAJOR (CATEGORY 3-4-5) HURRICANE TRACKING INTO THE CARIBBEAN (10-20°N, 60-88°W)

  1. 28% (average for last century is 42%)

 

ABSTRACT

Information obtained through March 2014 indicates that the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season will likely have less activity than the median 1981-2010 season. We estimate that 2014 will have only 3 hurricanes (median is 6.5), 9 named storms (median is 12.0), 35 named storm days (median is 60.1), 12 hurricane days (median is 21.3), 1 major (Category 3-4-5) hurricanes (median is 2.0) and 2 major hurricane days (median is 3.9). The probability of U.S. major hurricane landfall is estimated to be about 65 percent of the long-period average. We expect Atlantic basin Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) and Net Tropical Cyclone (NTC) activity in 2014 to be approximately 60 percent of their long-term averages.

 

This forecast is based on a new extended-range early April statistical prediction scheme that was developed utilizing 29 years of past data. Analog predictors are also utilized. We anticipate a below-average Atlantic basin hurricane season due to the combination of a relatively high likelihood of at least a moderate El Niño and a relatively cool tropical Atlantic. Coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them, and they need to prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.

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