A short update on the bitterly cold arctic that is forecast to sweep through our region on Thursday. Forecast data from over the weekend has trended much colder than what was forecast on Friday. In addition, the very cold temperatures may last a bit longer than originally thought, with many areas, including Austin, expected to remain below freezing between Thursday evening and Saturday morning.

This will likely be the coldest air our region has seen since Winter Storm Uri in 2021, and the coldest December temperatures our area has seen since December 1989. Make no mistake; this is shaping up to be a significant cold air event!

Sunday’s analysis showed the arctic airmass just starting to show now up over northwestern Canada and northeastern Alaska, where the temperature is running between -40 and -50 degrees F.  Forecasts call for the bitterly cold air to push southeast over the next couple of days, reaching the Canadian/ U.S. border early Tuesday. The arctic air is then predicted to plunge south down across the Plains states Tuesday into Wednesday, reaching the Texas Panhandle region Wednesday night. The arctic front will quickly sweep south across the Hill Country, Central Texas, and coastal regions sometime Thursday morning.

Windy and much colder weather will settle in behind the cold front Thursday afternoon into Thursday night. Expect strong northwesterly winds behind the front at 20-30 mph, with occasional gusts to 45 mph Thursday afternoon through Friday. The strong winds should decrease some by late Friday.

Thursday night into Friday morning is shaping up to be the coldest night of the entire cold spell, with the temperature expected to fall below freezing by Thursday evening.

Here’s a look updated temperatures forecast late week and through the weekend:

  • Lows early Friday morning are forecast to be around 10 degrees across the Hill Country, be between 10 and 15 degrees across Central Texas, and be between 15 and 20 degrees across the coastal plains!
  • Temperatures Friday are predicted to only warm to the upper 20s across the Hill Country and Central Texas regions, getting close to 30 degrees across the coastal plains.
  • Lows Saturday morning are predicted to be between 15 and 20 degrees across the Hill Country, and be close to 20 degrees across Central Texas and the coastal plains.
  • High temperatures Saturday are predicted to be in the upper 30s.
  • Low Christmas morning are predicted to be in the low 20s across the Hill Country, the mid-20s across Central Texas regions, and in the mid to upper 20s near the coast.
  • High temperatures Christmas Day are forecast to be in the upper 40s.
  • Lows next Monday morning are forecast to be close to freezing.

Fortunately, weather conditions are expected to be dry through this upcoming cold outbreak, and no precipitation is forecast across the area. Milder temperatures are predicted for the week after Christmas.

The intensity of this air mass along with the longevity of the cold air will require preparations to pipes, plants, pets/livestock, and people.

  • Proper winterization of any exposed pipes/plumbing will be needed to prevent damage. Sprinkler systems must be shut off and properly drained. If leaving out of town for the upcoming holidays, shut off the main water supply and drain pipes to prevent damage should they burst. Pipes/plumbing on elevated homes must be protected from the ground to the entry point of the structure.
  • Pets/livestock will require proper shelter to protect from the cold temperatures and dangerous wind chills. Prolonged exposure to the forecasted temperatures and wind may be fatal to unprotected livestock and pets. Monitor water sources as typical sources may freeze over.
  • Tropical plants/vegetation will require maximum freeze protection. Unprotected tropical vegetation will be killed and even protected vegetation will likely suffer heavy damage given the advective nature of the freeze.
  • Persons should limit outdoor exposure during the cold as wind chills will fall to dangerous levels. Utilize heating sources properly to reduce the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.

I’ll pass along another update Monday.