Archive for the ‘Climate’ Category

Can you believe this? A wild record in Los Angeles
February 28, 2019

Did you realize that for the first in recorded history Downtown Los Angeles did not record a 70° day in the month of February. Records go back to 1878. There have been three Februaries that recorded only one 70° day – 1891, 1919 and 1998. In this age of warming temperatures, this is an incredible feat!

This is what the month looked like day by day. We had only one above average day on February 12th. Every other day was below average. Average February temperature is 68° at the beginning of the month and 69° on the 28th. The month of February averages twelve 70° days.


Putting the Rain this Winter in Perspective
February 19, 2019

It feels like we can’t go even a few days without looking ahead to our next rain storm. And I’ve been asked many times, “Is this normal?” “Are we setting records?” “When was the last time it was this rainy?”

Here are your answers:

Let’s start with the rain season which starts October 1st. As you can see from the above graphic it’s been a great year! Three of the first five months have produced above average rain and January and February have been incredible.

2016_Roll List 2But when you compare this water year to the top four years on record, we aren’t even close! We are currently sitting in 54th place of the rainiest years. Records go back to 1877 giving us 142 years of numbers to compare. To be fair we have through September to add to this amount but typically once we get past April we don’t get much more rain in Southern California. How many more spots do you think we’ll climb?

It is great to see that our 15.68″ of rain in Los Angeles is above our yearly average of 14.93″. San Diego is also above its yearly average, 10.35″ just passed its seasonal average of 10.34 inches.

While the month of February has been very wet we haven’t set any rainfall records.

2016_Roll ListWe are in the top 20% of rainiest Februaries (29th place) but it’s going to be tough to climb much higher with only light rain in the forecast for the next seven days.

The long range models are hinting at another atmospheric river taking aim on us the second week of March so this wet season should continue. The question is how much how much more rain will we get before we finish the month of April?

La Nina, Los Angeles and our upcoming winter
November 29, 2017

Here is a short video I put together on what Los Angeles and California can expect this winter with temperatures and precipitation.

It does appear we’ll have a La Nina winter.

There is a strong correlation that during a La Nina pattern Southern California is drier than average.

The forecast I’m going with is shown above. Southern and Central California will be below average in precipitation.  And so far we’ve had an awfully dry start to our wet season.  The good news is I think the Northern Sierra, will get a good amount so snow this winter.

I’m also thinking Southern California will be very warm this winter.  That is bad news for our SoCal ski resorts.

What do you think happens this winter?

Why All the Heavy Rain this Winter?
February 20, 2017


12-Hour water vapor satellite loop

If you’re wondering why we’re getting so much heavy rain in Southern California, and the state for that matter, it has everything to do with what’s called an Atmospheric River. An atmospheric river is a long, narrow band of water vapor in the sky, usually 250-350 miles wide.  On their own they bring beneficial rain and increase the California snowpack.  The rain forms because as the river makes land, the glide from sea level to the mountains lifts the moisture, condenses it and turns it into rain or snow.  In a typical year these rivers account for 30%-50% of the west coast’s annual rainfall.



But this season has been anything but typical.

On Jan. 22, 2017, 2.67 inches of rain fell on downtown Los Angeles — that’s the most rain in one day since December 2010.  And an all-time one day record rain of 3.97 inches fell on Long Beach, causing portions of I-710 to be under water. And, of course, we’ve seen what has been going on at the Oroville Dam.

We’ve seen historic flooding in the state because of a few unique factors.  First, the amount of moisture in this winter’s atmospheric river has been equivalent to the average flow of water at the mouth of the Mississippi River.  Last week, a satellite image showed the entire atmospheric river from Japan to Northern California.  If the water vapor has its origin near the Hawaiian Islands, it’s called a Pineapple Express.  Second, since January the atmospheric river has stalled and focused mainly on the state of California. Last, the intensity of our storms has been enhanced by deep areas of low pressure and cold fronts moving though at the same time.  It all makes for record-setting rain.  But we have seen these patterns in the past.

The Great Flood of 1862 devastated Sacramento and Southern California.  This atmospheric river stalled for 30 days and brought wave after wave of heavy rain.


K Street, looking east from 4th Street during the flood of 1862, Sacramento

And the devastating flood of 1938 killed dozens of people in Southern California and destroyed more than 7,000 homes.  This event prompted the transformation of the LA River into a series of channels.


March 2, 1938: Flooding at West 43rd Place near Leimert Boulevard.

What makes atmospheric rivers hard to forecast from a seasonal perspective is they can arrive in El Nino, La Nina or neutral patterns.  They are most common in significantly strong El Nino patterns.  In 2016, atmospheric rivers brought record-setting rain to the Pacific Northwest and started the work getting Northern California out of a five-year drought.


Friday’s atmospheric river aimed toward Southern California

California – The wettest start since 2010… And more on the way
January 31, 2017

I’m getting asked a lot of questions about our weather.  Why are we getting so much rain?  Why is it a year delayed from last year’s strong El Nino?  Is the drought over? What’s going on?


Four months into the water year we have the wettest start ever recorded.

To answer these questions I first have to give some perspective on climate in California and probabilities.

In case you don’t know, California is a state of extremes when it comes to precipitation.  Throughout recorded history we’ve alternated between drought and excessive rain.  Los Angeles is a good example of these extremes.  While we average 15 inches of rain a year, we are rarely near this amount.  If you look at the past 30 years, we’ve gone from extremely dry years to well above average years.  In the end, it averages 15 inches.



Next snow survey is February 2nd and we’ll near 200%.

The one question that is a little more difficult to explain is the why we’re getting the heavy rain this year instead of last year.  Last winter we were prepared for the potential of heavy rain. The reason we thought this was because in all of the significantly strong El Nino climate patterns, Southern California got soaked.  The odds were in our favor.  But the rain didn’t come.

2015_Significant El Ninos

The 2015/16 water year only recorded 6.57″ of rain.

What is fascinating this year is we are in a weak La Nina or neutral weather pattern.  Both of these patterns slant dry for the state of California and especially for Southern California.  The probability our state would be dry this year is 70%, leaving a 30% chance we’d be above average.  And, if you really study this image, there isn’t a weak La Nina pattern that is well above average for Southern California.


Instead what we are seeing is the wettest winter since 2010.  The storms of the past two months have recouped 37% of the state’s five-year snow/water deficits. And for the first time since January 2014, no place in California is in an exceptional drought.  Precipitation is more than 200% of average and the Sierra Snow pack is looking great!


So what gives? Why the two extremes in outcomes?  I could give the answer, “That is how the weather works sometimes.” And this reply wouldn’t be completely wrong because even with an excellent forecast for a 90% chance of rain, there are days it’s dry.

But the answer is a little more complicated.

Last year the water was so warm in the Pacific that it affected the jet stream and moved all of the heavy rain to the Pacific Northwest and Northern California.

This winter we’ve been aided by numerous atmospheric rivers or a Pineapple Express.  This type of pattern can occur at any time regardless of an El Nino, La Nina or neutral pattern.  These rivers of atmospheric moisture are responsible for much of the devastating flooding in California’s history.  And it played a big part in the flooding on Jan. 22.


Long Beach received the most rain ever recorded in a 24 hour period, 3.97″.


Most people don’t know about the mega flood of 1862, which was caused by an intense atmospheric river. It has a return period of 100-200 years, meaning it will happen again.


And this leads me to climate change.  The latest research shows that in a warming planet, droughts will become more severe and heavy rain events will occur more often.  Before we started getting the rain in December, Southern California went through the driest five-year stretch ever recorded.  And, if you look at tree ring data, it may have been the driest stretch in 1,000 years.


But if you look at the history of flooding in California, intense flooding events occurred before the industrial age and atmospheric rivers are responsible for most of these events.  Attributing climate change to future flooding events may be hard to do.  Upcoming research will need to address how a warming world affects atmospheric rivers.

Going forward, the key for our drought, especially in Southern California, is we need this kind of winter pattern for two more years so we can get out of a drought cycle.  And, of course, I’ll keep you posted.


Southern California is Making a Comeback!
February 24, 2016


It’s the fourth quarter and SoCal is down by three touchdowns. The clock is ticking and 17 million people are wondering if this will be a disappointing finish.  Don’t give up yet, this is the rain forecast for Sunday and Monday with more on the way.

With one month to go before one of the strongest El Ninos on record fades, the question remains: How much more rain and snow is on the way, and why has Southern California been so dry?

2015_El Nino So Far

Let’s start by going back in time and look at the El Nino rain forecast for winter. A couple of things stick out. First, notice how Southern California, Texas and Florida are all forecast to receive an above average amount of rain. The Pacific Northwest is dry and Northern California is a toss up. All of the previously strong El Ninos showed no correlation to NoCal, it was 50/50.


This is what has happened so far this winter. The bonus is most of the water sheds and reservoirs, which are located in Northern California and provide water for the entire state, are filling up. But Southern California has been incredibly dry, prompting people to ask: Where is El Nino? I call this forecast the 17-million person “bust.”

What is fascinating to me is what is happening this winter in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle, Washington and Portland have recorded their wettest winters ever! Record keeping goes back to 1894.  So the question is why.


The El Nino-fueled moisture is in the Pacific, as predicted, but the jet stream has moved the rain into the Pacific Northwest and Northern California. The dry slot has been Southern California and Southern Arizona. But why is this blocking ridge of high pressure here?


You’ve heard us say, “Every El Nino is different.” And that is certainly the case this year. The warmest water in the Pacific Ocean isn’t near South America like it was in previously strong El Nino patterns. The warmest water is farther west, south of the Hawaiian Islands.


That warmth is creating a large area of low pressure and rising air.


In turn, the sinking air has created a large area of high pressure keeping the rain away from Southern California.

The rain is back in SoCal March 6th and the longer term climate models have a wet March but these same models also showed a furry of storms in February and obviously that hasn’t happened. So, what do you think will happen?  You can Tweet or Facebook me at: @anthonynbcla.

Time is running out, the clock is ticking and 17 million people are wondering if SoCal can make a come back.

El Nino & California
January 13, 2016

We are halfway though California’s wet season and in the three wettest months of the year. While we’ve been in an El Nino pattern since March, California doesn’t feel the effects of this climate pattern until late fall and winter.


The great news is Northern and Central California have been receiving a lot of beneficial rain and snow. In fact, our snowpack is more than double what it was last year at this time.  And some spots will get two more feet of snow in the next two days.  One-hundred percent is considered an “average” amount of snowpack for this date and we are right there. The below image is a comparison of the snow amounts on this date to January of 2014.

Our Northern California reservoirs are key to building up our water supply as these are the largest and provide water for the most people and land.

El Nino Rain_2

So What About Us In Southern California?


We got our first heavy rain last week and there was quite a bit of burn scar flooding and several mud slides. We are close to reaching our monthly average halfway through the month.

No two El Ninos are the same. In 1983, most of the heavy rain and flooding in Los Angeles came in the month of March. In 1998, six storms brought more than 13 inches of rain in February. On average, we get six storms throughout an entire year.


If you are wondering how much rain we need to erase the deficit in Southern California, we’ve got a long way to go.


Our El Nino will end up being the strongest or second strongest on record, and comparing the top five the range in rain amounts is between 20″ and 30″. So, unless we break a record, we’ll still have a deficit, but of course the more rain we get the better.

2015_Significant El Ninos

As of mid January our current El Nino is tied with 1997/98 and peaking right now.


El Nino Index



El Niño strengthening and what that means for us in Southern California
July 7, 2015

2015_El Nino Strength

The latest El Niño forecast is in and it is looking more and more likely that we are in for a very strong El Niño through the winter of 2015-16.  There is even a 60% chance that we could experience the strongest El Niño in modern times.  So what does this mean for California and especially our drought?  Keep reading and I’ll try and answer this question.


The above image is the latest forecast for El Niño.  This shows the different models and what they are projecting.  As you can see, almost all of them are forecasting a strong El Niño with some even above the record El Niño of 1997.

2015_El Nino Rainfall

Of course the big question is: Will we get enough rain in the winter to get out of our horrific drought in California or at least make a big dent in it?  One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to El Niño is it ALWAYS brings rain.  There is the belief that every El Niño will be like 1997-98 or 1983-83 when downtown Los Angeles received 30 plus inches of rain during the water year.  The atmosphere is not that simple.  Some El Niño seasons have been dry, some wet, and others are somewhere around average.  Going back through 1950, we have seen 22 seasons with an El Niño, 12 had above-average rainfall and 10 were below-average.  This data shows a slight trend toward wet winters, but you can see it is far from a guarantee.  This is the part of El Niño that is impossible to predict.

2015_Significant El Ninos

However, the one strong correlation to getting the rain we need is if we get a significantly strong El Niño.  Check out the above graph and how all significant years brought well above average rain amounts.  If El Niño forecast continues in this direction I do think we will receive a tremendous amount of rain this upcoming winter.  To get out of our drought in California we need widespread amounts of two feet just to get back to normal.  If we get that in one season we’ll get flooding and mud slides.  We also need more than just rain.  We need our northern California mountains to get snow.  A concern I have is, if the temperatures are too warm, we’ll get a lot of rain but no snow.  The snow in the Northern Sierras is our year-round water supply for families and farmers.


Check out how our July water temperatures compare to the El Niño of 1997.  That year was warmer and more widespread from the waters of South America, but the two are fairly close.  An interesting note: Hurricane Dolores was able to keep its circulation as it moved closer to southern California because the warmer waters in North America kept it from completely dying.  It was Dolores, along with a monsoonal flow, that brought about record-setting rain July 18th and 19th.

2015_El Nino Hurricane

In any El Niño season we see an increase in Pacific hurricane activity and a decrease in the Atlantic.

2015_Drought Monitor

Even with the record-setting July rain, there is no recognizable dent in the drought.  We went from 47% exceptional drought to 46%.

2015_El Nino Effects

What is interesting for Los Angeles in particular is we also don’t get as many 90-degree days in the summer.

2015_What Is El Nino

El Niño is a warming of the water off the Pacific coast of South America.  El Niño’s are categorized by their strength, ranging from weak to very strong.  This past winter was a weak El Niño.  No two El Niños are alike.

Special thanks to David Biggar for the graphics and research.

Coldest Start Ever to the Month of May
May 6, 2013

Last year at this time we already had three 90 degree days in the month of May.  This year we’ve broken three low temperature records.  For the first five days of the month we are 9 degrees below normal which ties us with 1889 for the coldest start to the month of May.  Records started being kept in Houston that year, Incredible!

Click image or link to watch Monday’s Webcast:

Monday’s Webcast

A Wet Start to 2012
February 20, 2012

It’s been 20 years since we’ve started the year this wet.  In 1992 11.57″ of rain fell from January 1st through February 19th.  This year 11.05″ of rain has fallen at Bush Intercontinental, putting us in 6th place for the wettest start to the year. 


Other cities in Southeast Texas have also had beneficial heavy rain.

College Station has received 12.08″ of rain so far this year; only 1991 has been wetter with 17.28″.
Hobby Airport has received 12.20″ of rain, putting it in fourth place.
Galveston is out of the top ten in 12th place with 10.27″ of rain to start 2012. 

More rain is possible Wednesday and Thursday and the new United States Drought Monitor comes out Thursday.  It will be interesting to see how much improvement we’ve made since the 14th.  Any bets that parts of Southeast Texas will get out of the drought?

Dust Bowl Fires
September 9, 2011

This question was brought to you by the students at the Continuum Academy & Learning Center in Livingston.  They visited me at the station and presented their research on Texas droughts in the last 100 years.  They explained how the Dust Bowl of the 1930s would not happen today because we learned from our mistakes of taking  land for granted.  They also shared how there were almost no fires during the dust bowl because of the blowing sand.  Sand puts out fires.  With the abuse of the land there also wasn’t a lot of vegetation or grass to burn.      

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The Peak of Hurricane Season
September 7, 2011


Simply put, ocean waters are at their warmest in the month of September.  Other factors play an important role in hurricane formation but the number one ingredient is warm ocean waters. 

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2011 Hottest Year Ever Recorded
August 21, 2011

We are on track to set the hottest year on record in Houston with an average temperature of 72.6 degrees.  This is rather incredible despite our cold winter.  Interesting that second place is exactly 100 years ago.    In a typical year Houston’s average daily mean temperature is 67.9 degrees. 

Focusing on the month of August, Houston’s average temperature is 82.3 degrees.  However, this August our average is 90.7.  The record was set last year at 87.7 degrees.  Being three degree above our record is almost inconceivable.   

The 100-Degree Streak Continues, Records Falling
August 18, 2011

This unprecedented string of 100-degree days shows no signs of stopping.  We are quickly coming up on the all-time summer record of 100-degree days set in 1980.

Speaking of 1980, Huntsville, Conroe and Hobby Airport have already eclipsed their 1980 records of 100-degree days. 

100-degree days in a row… Tomball, Huntsville and College Station have more than Houston. 

It will be interesting to see how much longer College Station’s streak will last.  It needs to go 11 more days to tie the all-time record of 30 days set in 1998.  It can do it. The high-pressure ridge, while moving west next week, will still bring abnormally high temperatures.

100 Degrees 8 Days and Counting
August 9, 2011

As of Tuesday morning, we have endured 19 100-degree days in Houston this year.  It’s basically four times our average of five 100-degree days a year, but short of the record set in 1980.

The streak of eight in a row puts us in fourth place of longest 100-degree streaks.  Since Aug. 1 we’ve been either 100, 101 or 102 degrees.  We would need to hit 100 degrees every day this week though Sunday to tie 1980’s record.

Besides the 100-degree temperatures this month, we are now the hottest YEAR on record with an average high of 72.2 degrees.  This ties us with 1911.  After today, we will stand alone on top.

Of course, the drier ground makes it hotter. We are also the driest year on record, 18 inches of rain below normal.  It’s taken two and a half years to get the drought this bad. Unless we get a drought buster, like a tropical system, it will take a long time to dig ourselves out of this hole.

Drought Worsens
August 8, 2011

It’s good Jim got here in 1957. That year ended a seven-year drought and some brutally hot temperatures. Usually, the way we get rain in the summer is from sea breeze thunderstorms that spark up in the afternoon. There have been two problems with that this year. First, the ridge of high pressure has been influencing us by bringing in sinking air. That acts to prevent storms from forming. Second, the drought affects temperatures and rain. We’ve been in a drought since Hurricane Ike hit in September 2008. We’ve been getting drier and drier for two and a half years. The combination of dry soils and high pressure creates a weather pattern that brings less rain and hotter temperatures. Look at the graph below and see just how dry June 2011 was compared to the previous 100 years. The first six months of 2011 were the driest first half of any year on record, and it’s not even close. The only hope is to have a tropical system bring heavy rain because our weather pattern won’t change the rest of the summer.

It’s Not Just The Heat, It’s The Humidity
June 16, 2011

We are on pace to have the hottest June ever in Houston.  We’ve set six record highs this month and four of those days have been at or above 100 degrees.

But today the humidity goes up, and that will cause problems as we enter the weekend.  Click image to view Thursday’s webcast.

Your Summer 2011 Forecast
June 10, 2011

I answer Wayne’s question on this webcast.  Click image to view your summer forecast.

Ask Anthony… Cloud Seeding
April 28, 2011

This is an e-mail I received from Ray:

With the drought in Texas being so severe and watching all the moisture laden clouds being drawn to the storms north of this area…  I keep wondering why the government doesn’t consider seeding those clouds.  Seems to me that it would be cheaper than fighting the wild fires and could also reduce the intensity of the storms further north.  If technology can make cloud seeding work now it would truly be a win-win.

Hi Ray,

Good question.  The problem is it wouldn’t be cheaper.  Cloud seeding takes fuel, chemicals and, of course, an airplane.  None of these are cheap on the scale we are talking about.  One plane won’t do the trick, and are we going to ask the government in these cash-strapped times to send out hundreds of planes making hundreds of trips to cover a relatively small area?  Our state is huge — what counties are left out?  Who gets the seeding?  West Texas, where the fires have been the worst, is a dry climate. Seeding may work for a short time, but lower humidity would erase all moisture picked up by the vegetation.  There are also the political impacts.  What if Montgomery County is sprayed and fires break out in in Liberty, Waller and Walker counties? People would start asking if rain was “taken” away from their cities because someone in the government felt Montgomery County was more worthy.  Lastly, there is still some debate out there about if weather cloud seeding really works.  Southeast Texas is a good example of how seeding the clouds may not help.  Our problem isn’t a lack of moisture, it’s the strong inversion over our area.  More moisture won’t break the cap on our atmosphere.  We need low pressure, the jet stream or some other strong lifting mechanism to break the cap. Once that happens, we’ll get rain.

To sum it up, it would cost too much, help too little and there is no guarantee it would bring about the results needed in the areas sprayed. 

How the Ocean Affects Our Weather
March 18, 2011


As we move into the spring season, the Gulf of Mexico starts playing a bigger role in our weather.  Soon we’ll have sea breeze thunderstorms and, of course, the heat and humidity will make the days somewhat uncomfortable.  Click the image above to view how the ocean affects southeast Texas. 

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Your Spring Forecast
March 9, 2011


Click image to view your spring forecast:

Record High and Low Temperatures
December 17, 2010


Courtesy: Earth Gauge

From January 2000 to October 24, 2010, 310,531 record high temperatures were set across the contiguous United States. During the same period, 152,087 record low temperatures were set, giving a record highs to record lows ratio of more than 2:1.

There are close to 5,000 quality-controlled weather stations across the United States and every day at least some of these locations will set record high or record low temperatures. During periods of warming – even periods of pronounced warming – daily record low temperatures will continue to be set. Daily record high temperatures are also set during periods of cooling. Yet, it is not the existence of record highs or record lows that indicate whether a warming or cooling trend is occurring. Instead, it is the proportion or ratio of record highs to record lows that indicates whether the climate is getting warmer or cooler. During the warmest decade on record, the 2000s, lots of daily record lows were set. Between January 1, 2000 and October 24, 2010, 152,087 record lows were set. All other things being equal – meaning that there is no increase or decrease in average surface temperature – the ratio of record highs to record lows should be around 1:1. But, from January 2000 to October 24, 2010, 310,531 record high temperatures were set, giving a high to low ratio of more than 2:1. The disparity between record highs and record lows reflects the above normal temperatures experienced over the last decade.

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Our Winter Forecast & Quiz Archive #3
November 2, 2010


It does not look like a repeat of last seasons winter where temperatures were extremely cold and it snowed twice in one season.  A strong La Nina pattern has set up and and translates into a warmer and drier than average winter.  This will likely exacerbate drought and wildfire conditions lasting into the spring of 2011.  During a La Nina winter, the southern jet stream moves northward, channeling more storms and cold snaps into the northern half of the country.    


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Record July Rainfall
July 8, 2010

This is pretty incredible considering May was the third warmest month on record, and June tied as the sixth warmest month.  Houston had a complete turn around this July with the eighth wettest month on record — and we are only seven days into the month.  (These numbers do not reflect the rain falling Thursday morning.)  You often hear me say that tropical systems are “drought busters.” Hurricane Alex and Tropical Depression No. 2 brought heavy rain into southeast Texas and neither made a direct hit.

The Summer Solstice
June 21, 2010


To view Monday’s webcast click image

A Cool Houston Winter
April 5, 2010


Houston may have the reputation of being hot and humid all year round, but the 2009-2010 winter months were all below normal in temperature.  In fact, the last time the months of December through March were all below average was 1976-1977. 

The last time Houston had four consecutive months with below normal temperatures was in 1997.  April through August were all below average.   

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Allergy Alert!
March 31, 2010

Some helpful hints this allergy season from

Tree pollens are typically the first allergens to show-up in the spring, causing problems for up to 40 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies.

Right now, Oak, Hash, and Hackberry pollens are the main allergy culprits in Houston, and pollen levels are high. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, reduce your exposure to tree pollens by avoiding outdoor activities during the early morning when trees usually emit pollens, between 5 and 10 a.m. Keep windows closed at night to keep pollens out of your home, and keep windows closed when traveling in the car.

  • A late-freeze that follows a mild winter can reduce tree pollen production, or even halt pollen production completely for some trees.  Unfortunately, this did not happen for us in SE Texas. 
  • Windy weather increases pollen counts by spreading tiny pollens through the air.
  • Rainy weather initially decreases pollen counts, but can increase pollen production later in the year by spurring growth of late-spring and summer grasses.  Because our preceding winter season was rainy, tree pollen counts are extreme.

Exposure to indoor allergens, such as dust mites, molds and pet dander, may aggravate allergy symptoms when combined with exposure to outdoor pollens. This is a good time to remove allergens inside your home, which can help to reduce your overall exposure when pollen counts are high enough to push your body over its tolerance. Dusting, changing the filter on your ventilation system, washing your mattress lining and sealing your mattresses and pillows with dust covers can help to control allergy triggers indoors.

Record Breaking Cold Winter
March 2, 2010


If you don’t remember temperatures being this cold in the winter, you are correct.  In fact, we haven’t seen a winter like this in Houston since the 1977-78 season.  Here are a few facts:

Dec. 1, 2009 to Feb. 28, 2010 is the 6th coldest on record in Houston with an average temperature of 49.2 degrees.  Number one is 46.3 degrees set in 1977-78.

February goes down as the 5th coldest on the records books.  Houston’s average temperature was 48.5 degrees.  (See the graphic above and notice how most of the records were set before a lot of us were born.)  Our temperatures for the month ran almost 7 degrees below our normal.

Galveston and College Station were just as cold.

El Nino & Our Winter Explained
February 16, 2010


Click image to view Tuesday’s webcast.

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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