A quiet weather pattern continues across Central and South Texas as we close out the work week.  We’ve experienced quite a bit of quite, dry weather this fall thanks to the development of a moderate La Niña in the Pacific.  The most recent forecasts call for La Niña to persist through the winter months, then weaken and dissipate during spring.  With La Nina firmly in place, opportunities for rain will be limited over the next few months.  And when it does rain, totals are predicted to average well below normal.

One of those rare opportunities for rain is forecast to develop across our region tonight through Saturday morning when a trough of low pressure and a cold front move across Texas.  In advance of the two systems, clouds and moisture are quickly spreading north from the Gulf of Mexico into Central Texas and the Hill Country.  Expect today’s sky to become overcast this afternoon.  Southerly breezes will increase to a range of 10-15 mph with some occasional higher gusts.  Wind speeds will decrease this evening and overnight.  Today’s temperature is predicted to warm to the low 60s, while mid and upper 60s are expected towards the coast.  Lows Saturday morning will range from the mid and upper 40s west to the mid and upper 50s east.

Patchy light rain showers are forecast to develop across the region this evening as the atmosphere grows increasingly moist and somewhat unstable.  Light to occasionally moderate rain showers are forecast after midnight.  A cold front is predicted to move across the Hill Country just after sunrise Saturday, reaching the Interstate 35 corridor late morning and the coastal plains region in the late afternoon.  Rain showers and a few isolated thunderstorms are forecast to develop just ahead of and along the cold front Saturday morning into Saturday afternoon.  Behind the front, the chance for rain is expected to diminish from west to east in the afternoon, with the sky then becoming sunny.

Recent rainfall forecasts have increased slightly, now calling for totals to average less than a quarter inch across the Hill Country while averaging between a quarter and a half inch across Central Texas and between 0.5 and 1 inches across the middle Texas coast.

After seeing highs in the low 60s on Saturday, readings are forecast to become chilly Saturday night.  Lows Sunday morning will include the low 30s across the Hill Country, the mid 30s across Central Texas and the lower 40s towards the coast.

Sunny and dry weather is forecast Sunday through Tuesday as our region comes under the influence of stable high pressure in the middle and upper atmosphere.  High temperatures will be in the mid-60s Sunday, warming to the upper 60s Monday and to around 70-72 degrees on Tuesday.  Lows Monday morning will be in the low and mid-30s, rising to the upper 30s to lower 40s Tuesday morning and the upper 40s to low 50s Wednesday morning.

Another trough of low pressure is forecast to swing southeast out of the southern Rockies the middle of next week, but conditions don’t appear favorable for significant moisture return ahead of the trough.  A cold front associated with the trough is predicted to sweep southeast across the region Wednesday morning into Wednesday afternoon.  No rain is expected with the front, although a few light rain showers will be possible across the coastal plains Wednesday afternoon. The front will bring dry cooler air for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Under a sunny sky, high temperatures Thursday will be in the mid-50s, rising to the upper 50s on Christmas Day.  Lows Thursday and Friday mornings will include the low 30s across the Hill Country, the mid and upper 30s across Central Texas and the low to mid 40s across the coastal plains.

Sunny, dry and mild weather is forecast next weekend.  High temperatures will be in the mid-60s and low temperatures will be in the 40s.

Long-range forecasts for the week of December 28th call for mostly sunny, dry and cool weather on Monday and Tuesday. There will be a slight chance for rain on Wednesday, followed by more sunny and cool weather on New Years Eve and New Years Day.  Daily high temperatures will be in the 60s and lows will be in the 40s.

The pattern is forecast to remain unfavorable for the delivery of any arctic air into Central Texas through early January.

The Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturday Plus the Winter Solstice

The planets Jupiter and Saturn are drawing the world’s attention as they creep strikingly closer and closer together in the southwestern sky at nightfall.  Friday evening,  Saturn will only be 0.3° above Jupiter.  That’s hardly the width of a chopstick at arm’s length. They are closing toward a mere 0.1° apart on Monday evening, December 21st, just a toothpick width! After that they will widen again.

Because Jupiter and Saturn will hang low in the southwestern sky, find a location with a wide open view in that direction. They’ll be about 14° high when they first become easily visible about 45 minutes after sunset. The pair will set around 7 pm, so best not be late.  Forty-five minutes to 90 minutes after sunset will be the prime viewing window.

Monday, December 21st at 4:02 am CST will mark the winter solstice.  The winter solstice is the time when the sun on our sky’s dome reaches its farthest southward point for the year.  This is when the Sun reaches its farthest point south in the sky and begins its six-month return northward. It’s the moment when winter officially begins in the Northern Hemisphere.  At this solstice, the Northern Hemisphere has its shortest day and longest night of the year.

Have a good weekend.