Archive for December, 2009

El Nino & Tornadoes
December 30, 2009


Chances of a tornado increase along the Gulf Coast with the current El Niño, a large-scale weather pattern associated with warming of sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific. As these waters warm, they force the development of a stronger-than-average jet stream emanating from the eastern Pacific and extending across the southern tier of the United States. The impact of this jet stream is most apparent from January through late March when it enhances severe thunderstorm and tornado potential over coastal states.

Nearly 80 percent of cool-season tornado deaths in Florida occur during El Niños, many after dark. This type of deadly nighttime tornado activity occurred as recently as February 2007 when an outbreak caused 21 fatalities and 76 injuries, and February 1998, when tornadoes killed 42 people and injured 259. Other recent deadly cold season tornado outbreaks have affected parts of Georgia, Texas, and Mississippi during El Niño years.

Having a NOAA Weather Radio at your bedside is the best way to know when a tornado is on the way. These small units receive a special tone that activates the radio alarm before broadcasting emergency announcements, such as a tornado warning issued by NOAA’s National Weather Service. This feature is especially crucial when severe storms or other events occur at night when most people are sound asleep.

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El Nino & Winter
December 29, 2009

The South gets more than normal rainfall during El Niño years and less than normal rainfall during La Niña years when the colder waters in the eastern Pacific cause the Pacific storm track to shift north and miss us. During El Niño, not only does the storm track head right for us, it is even stronger than it is during the La Niña phase. Another effect of El Niño is cooler than normal winters in the South from about Texas eastward.

View a schematic diagram of how El Niño and La Niña events affect wintertime rainfall and temperature:

For more information on El Niño, including seasonal forecasts by region, visit:

Learn more about what Northern Hemisphere storm tracks are and how they work:

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Our Morning Show Olympic Promo
December 25, 2009

Ask Anthony – Why Is Conroe Colder?
December 21, 2009

Weather station KCXO, Conroe airport, is in a rurally wind-protected, somewhat “bowl-shaped” locale in relation to the surrounding topography. This layout allows winds to go calm many nights, especially in the cooler months. This equates to more efficient radiative cooling. This location records temperatures that can be on average 5 to 8 degrees colder than even a mile or two away. The geography can also create a ‘drainage effect’ where cool air (sinking) flows into the weather station. The National Weather Service states the gauge is calibrated and maintained properly. A more accurate temperature reading for the city would be accomplished if the NWS moved the gauge to, perhaps City Hall, but airports get priority in terms of these official gauges which cost about $10,000 to install and $2,000 a month to maintain.

Concerning Lake Conroe: You can not compare this much smaller (cooler) interior lake to the much larger (and warmer) Gulf of Mexico… so it is simply a scale issue. The lake is 10 miles to the West Northwest of the airport. The small size of the cooler freshwater Lake Conroe and the distance from KCXO is the main factor as to why you can’t compare Conroe to Galveston. The Galveston weather station is in a tropical maritime environment, where warm moist winds blow over Scholes Field.  –  Anthony 

Temperature Monday morning at 6 a.m.

I had a random question for you – why does it seem like on every forecast, regardless of time of year, that the temperature reading in Conroe is always 3-6 degrees colder than the rest of the viewing area – even those areas to the north of Conroe?? I wouldnt think Conroe would typically be colder than say College Station but more times than not it is…
Wes Raska

Hi Anthony,
Why is Conroe’s winter temperature 2 to 3 degrees cooler than surrounding cities.  Galveston’s temp is warmer in the winter because of the effect of the surrounding Gulf of Mexico.  Why doesn’t Lake Conroe have a similar effect on the city of Conroe?  My thought is that their thermometer is incorrect, unless you have another explanation.  I await your answer.
Edmond McGee

Just wanted to make a comment about the temperature for Conroe. I live 11 miles west of Conroe and have two friends who live in Conroe. I have two digital and one standard thermometer while they both have two digital as well. The low temps that are given out of Conroe typically are anywhere from 5-10 degrees cooler then the actual temperature. You might want to investigate the reporting method out of this area.
Kind Regards,
Darin Barrow

How come Conroe usually has cooler temps than surrounding cities?  Does Lake Conroe play a part in this? Scratching my head,
John Powers

Snow in Southeast Texas!
December 7, 2009

We received almost 2,000 pictures of the snow that fell December 4th.  It’s always magical when the white stuff falls in a tropical environment.  Besides the traffic accidents the people I talked to loved it!

Photo by: Tia Artisst, 4th hole of Southwyck Golf Course in Pearland

Click the image to get all of the coverage, videos and photos from our snowfall.

Lisa and Mallory made this little guy in Alief.  Click image to see other photos. 

Photo by: Brock Anderson, Jersey Village.  This is Kate and her new snowman friend.  Click image to see how much snow fell where you live. 

Photo by: Paul Rodriguez, Rosenberg.  Click picture to watch snow videos.

Photo by: Marissa Exum, Gulf Coast Seal, Ltd. employees at Hobby Airport.

Here is the 2008 snow pictures: 2008 Snow

And the Christmas Eve snow in 2004: Christmas Eve Snow