Sunny and quiet weather continues across Texas on this last day of winter. The strong winds observed since Tuesday are finally beginning to calm down. It was fairly chilly early this morning as temperatures fell to the 30s across the Hill Country and into the 40s at most other locations. According to LCRA’s Hydromet, the temperature fell below freezing across much of the northern and western Hill Country. The lowest observed temperature was 25 degrees at a location in northeastern Menard county.

Sunny, dry and very pleasant weather is forecast across the region this afternoon through Sunday as a stable ridge of high pressure spreads over Texas out of the Desert Southwest. Readings will be mild during the day and cool at night. High temperatures are predicted to be near 70-72 degrees today and Saturday and be around 75 degrees on Sunday. Lows Saturday and Sunday mornings will include the mid and upper 30s across the Hill Country, the low 40s across Central Texas and the mid-40s near the coast. Expect a northerly breeze at 10-15 mph this afternoon and a light easterly breeze at 5-10 mph Saturday. Winds will become southerly with speeds of 10-15 mph on Sunday.

The weather pattern is forecast to become a bit more unsettled next week when a couple of low pressure troughs slide down the West Coast and then track northeast into the Plains states. Both systems are expected to bring a chance for rain showers and thunderstorms to our region. The first trough is forecast move across the Texas Panhandle region Monday night into Tuesday morning, pushing a Pacific cold front across the state. In advance this feature, clouds and moisture will spread north from the Gulf beginning Sunday night, continuing through Monday. This will result in a mostly cloudy to overcast sky. There will be a slight chance for a few spotty light rain showers Monday afternoon, with an increasing chance for rain and scattered thunderstorms Monday night into early Tuesday morning. The threat for any severe storms appears low. The rain will end from west to east Tuesday morning as drier air spreads in behind the cold front. Sunny weather is forecast Tuesday afternoon.

Heavy rain is not expected as most totals are predicted to only average around a quarter inch.  Lows Monday morning will be in the 50s while high temperatures Monday afternoon will be in the low and mid-70s. Lows Tuesday morning will again be in the 50s. High temperatures Tuesday will be in the upper 70s.

The next trough of low pressure is forecast track from northern New Mexico into the southern Plains states late Wednesday into Thursday, pushing another cold front across the state. Clouds will increase and the sky will become mostly cloudy Wednesday afternoon. There will be slight chance for showers Wednesday afternoon, followed by a 50 percent chance for rain showers and scattered thunderstorms Wednesday night into Thursday morning. The rain should taper off and the sky become partly cloudy Thursday afternoon.

Rainfall is predicted to a bit heavier with this second trough. Rain totals Wednesday through Thursday are forecast to generally average between a quarter and a half inch, with some isolated heavier totals. High temperatures Wednesday and Thursday will be in the low and mid-70s. Lows Wednesday and Thursday mornings will be in the 50s.

Sunny, dry and pleasant weather is forecast Friday into next weekend as the two troughs of low pressure exit to the Ohio Valley. High temperatures look to be in the 70s to 80 degrees while low temperatures will be in the 50s.

Looking out into the week of March 29th, long-range forecasts call for a slight chance for rain early in the week, followed by generally sunny, dry and mild weather for the remainder of the week.  High temperatures are predicated to be in the 70s and low temperatures in the 50s.

Astronomical Spring Arriving Early Saturday Morning

At 4:37 am CDT on Saturday, March 20th, the Sun will cross the celestial equator towards the north. This moment will mark the Northern Hemisphere’s spring equinox and the first day of astronomical spring. At the equinox, we see roughly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness across the entire globe. For the next 3 months, days will grow longer each day for folks in the northern hemisphere. At the equinox, the sun is currently rising due east and setting due west along the horizon.

Where are the Visible Planets?

 If you’re wanting to check out the visible planets this weekend, the pickings are pretty slim. Mars is the only planet currently visible in the evening and night sky. You’ll find Mars (magnitude +1.2, in Taurus) shining high in the west after dark. Mars is nearly the twin of the star Aldebaran to its lower left, in both brightness and in color.

Jupiter and Saturn have been slowly emerging into the dawn sky for the last three weeks. Look for them low in the east-southeastern sky about 50 or 40 minutes before sunrise. Saturn is the higher of the two, but is much dimmer at magnitude +0.7. Jupiter shines at magnitude –2.0 (not counting the atmospheric extinction for something so low); look for it some 11° to Saturn’s lower left. That’s about a fist at arm’s length.

Mercury has sunk out of sight into the glow of sunrise while Venus is out of sight right now in conjunction with the Sun.

Have a good weekend.