Several waves of thunderstorms moved across Central and South Texas over the long Memorial Day weekend. The most significant one occurring Sunday night into Monday morning. Rain totals from the northern Hill Country to the middle Texas coast since Friday have generally totaled between 1 and 2 inches, but several areas saw much higher totals. According to Doppler radar estimates and LCRA's Hydromet, the highest 4-day totals occurred in the area from southern Gillespie County, across Blanco and Hays Counties, to southern Travis County. Here, most amounts averaged between 3 and 5 inches. LCRA's highest gauged total was 5.39 inches at a location in north central Hays County, about 5 miles south-southwest of Dripping Springs. The lowest 4-day totals were observed across the western counties of the Hill Country, between Sonora, Junction, Menard and San Angelo. Here, most totals averaged less than a half inch.
NWS Estimate of Rain Falling Between 10 am Friday and 10 am Monday: (Data courtesy of National Weather Service)
As of Tuesday morning, the large trough of low pressure responsible for this weekend's rain and storms stretched from the northern Plains states to Southeast Texas. With the axis of the trough now east of our region, the threat for heavy rains has decreased. However, periods of rain and thunderstorms will still be possible through Thursday as small waves of low pressure drop south down the back side of the trough and move across Texas. This weekend's trough helped push a weak Canadian cold front through the area. As a result, temperatures are forecast to be not quite as hot this week, with warmer temperatures returning this weekend.
For this afternoon, there will be just a slight chance for a few isolated thunderstorms around the region. The probability for rain at any given location will be 20 percent. For locations that do happen to see rain, totals should average less than a quarter inch. Under a partly cloudy sky, today's temperature should warm to the low and mid-80s. Expect a mostly clear sky tonight. Lows Wednesday morning will include the upper 50s across the Hill Country, the low 60s across Central Texas and the mid-60s towards the coast.
Forecasts call for a somewhat better chance for rain showers and thunderstorms occurring Wednesday afternoon into Wednesday evening when a small wave of low pressure tracks southeast out of the Texas Panhandle. An area of thunderstorms is forecast to develop over northwest Texas Wednesday afternoon, with the area of storms tracking southeast into the Hill Country and Central Texas regions late Wednesday afternoon and Wednesday evening. Atmospheric conditions are predicted to become quite unstable in advance of the low, allowing some of these storms to become severe. The Storm Prediction Center has placed much of the Hill Country and Central Texas, including Austin, under an Enhanced Risk (3 out of 5 risk) for severe thunderstorms. A Slight Risk (2 out of 5 risk) extends south to Gonzales and Columbus. Large hail and damaging winds will be the primary severe weather threats, but an isolated tornado or two cannot be ruled out.
The probability for rain Wednesday afternoon into Wednesday evening will be near 40-50 percent. Rain amounts from the storms are forecast to average around a half inch, with isolated totals of 1-2 inches possible. Most of the storms are predicted to decrease in intensity before reaching the coastal counties. Wednesday's temperature is forecast to climb to the mid and upper 80s.
There will another chance for rain and thunderstorms on Thursday as one more wave of low pressure swings southeast out of the Texas Panhandle. This feature is predicted to cause the development of thunderstorms across the Concho Valley region Thursday afternoon, with the showers and thunderstorms expected to slide across the Hill Country and Central Texas regions late Thursday afternoon and evening. Some of the storms may again be strong to severe. The activity is forecast to push south to the coast late Thursday evening. The probability for rain will again will near 30-40 percent. Rain amounts look to average between 0.25 and 0.5 inches with isolated totals to near 1 inch possible. Thursday weather will be partly cloudy and warm, with temperatures warming to the mid and upper 80s.
A drier and mostly sunny weather pattern is forecast to develop Friday and continue through the weekend as the persistent trough of low pressure finally lifts off to the northeast. There will be lingering slight chance for afternoon showers across the coastal plains region through the weekend, but most other locations should stay dry. High temperatures Friday and through the weekend are forecast to be in the upper 80s.
Sunny, dry and warmer weather is forecast through the first half of next week as a stable ridge of high pressure sets over Texas and the south central U.S. High temperatures are forecast to be generally in the low 90s. A slight chance for rain showers and thunderstorms is forecast late next week into the following weekend as the high pressure ridge shifts east and a very moist flow develops off the Gulf of Mexico. High temperatures late next week should hold mostly in the low 90s.Comet SWAN's Final Song
Despite early expectations, comet SWAN appears to be fizzling, providing yet another opportunity to appreciate what makes these objects so unique. We've all been patiently waiting for Comet SWAN to put on a show. The comet brightened and developed a beautiful gas tail in April and early May. It was expected to become an easy naked-eye object by mid-May. In fact, Southern Hemisphere observers recorded a steady increase in brightness through April, including an outburst at month's end that boosted its magnitude to 5.2. Observers with dark skies reported seeing the comet without optical aid.
Then everything came to a screeching halt. The comet's brightness stalled and then reversed itself just days before its transition from southern to northern skies. The visual feast we'd been expecting has now become just a morsel. It's not clear but the comet may have broken into fragments. SWAN may still have an outburst in the cards, but the chances are not great.
The comet is not visible to the unaided eye and it's just a small fuzzy patch of light through binoculars.
If you'd like to try your luck in viewing the comet, look for it low , just 5–10° above the north-northwestern horizon, at the end of evening twilight. Be sure to find a spot with a wide-open view in that direction. While it may prove difficult or impossible to see in ordinary binoculars, a telescope will still provide a good view. (Skyandtelescope.org)