The hot and dry summer pattern drags on across Central and South Texas. Thursday's analysis of the upper atmosphere showed a broad ridge of high pressure stretching from the southwestern US to the Middle Atlantic States. The strongest and most stable part of the ridge was situated over the southern Plains states, including the Central Texas region.
An afternoon satellite image showed very few clouds, much less any rain occurring anywhere across the Plains states or across Texas. With strong sunshine, the ridge was producing very hot temperatures over much of the nation. NOAA-NASA GOES Project
Today's forecast data continues to indicate the ridge will remain over the same general area through Saturday, producing more sunny, hot and dry weather. For Central Texas, that means high temperatures between 98 and 101 degrees.
The ridge is forecast to weaken beginning Sunday when a trough of low pressure over south central Canada tracks to the southeast. This will force the center of the ridge west to a position over the southern Rockies early next week and even further to west during the latter part of next week. With the position of the ridge shifting more to the west, it will allow an easterly flow to set up off the Gulf of Mexico, pushing a small amount of tropical moisture inland. At the same time, with a weaker ridge in place, afternoon temperatures should lower a couple of degrees.
For Sunday and Monday, weather conditions will likely remain dry across the Hill Country and Central Texas regions, while isolated rain showers and thunderstorms will be possible across the coastal plains. High temperatures both days will be near 98-100 degrees with middle 90s towards the coast. Tuesday through Friday, a few isolated rain showers will be possible over parts of Central Texas and the eastern Hill Country. A slightly better coverage of rain showers is expected across the coastal plains region. High temperatures look to be in the upper 90s, with middle 90s towards the coast.
Looking beyond late next week, Wednesday's forecast data is calling for the center of the high pressure ridge to remain over the western and southwestern US through the first week of August. An easterly flow off the Gulf of Mexico into Texas is forecast to continue. This means a slight chance for coastal showers will continue with just little to no rain across the rest of the region. High temperatures look to stay around 98-100 degrees. While not great, conditions could certainly be hotter for the first week of August.Drought Conditions Beginning to Return
It's no secret it has so far been a very dry and hot summer across the Hill Country and Central Texas regions. For much of the area, the last significant rain occurred in early June and there has been little to no rain ever since. With temperatures running well above normal during this same period, the ground has been drying out quickly. The combination little to no rainfall and well above normal temperatures means drought conditions are returning to the region.
The National Weather Service and its partners released an updated drought monitor on Thursday.
While the drought monitor didn't depict actual drought across Central Texas, it did show some patches of "abnormally dry". The first level of drought was shown along the Rio Grande, between Del Rio and Laredo and also across northeast Texas.
The drought monitor authors acknowledged that conditions were deteriorating across Central Texas, but they felt the current hot and dry spell is not all that unusual…at least not just yet. According to the authors, dry and hot spells are fairly common across Central Texas in the summer. Most of them typically last around 40-50 days. So the current dry spell is within this general window, but will fall outside the window in another week. If the rain stays dry and hot into next week, expect the depiction of drought to rapidly expand across much of the region in next week's drought monitor.
Let's hope next week's isolated rain showers bring at least some limited relief.