Archive for the ‘Extreme Cold’ Category

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

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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

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Record Setting Cold Front Moving in Today
May 2, 2013

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We are in for a wide ride with our weather.  A cold front will move through the city of Houston around noon.  It will probably bring a thin line of rain but I wouldn’t expect much precipitation with this front.  It will bring a lot of wind and much cooler temperatures this afternoon.  A wind advisory goes into effect at 1pm and last through 10pm tonight.  Expect winds 20 to 30mph with gusts as high at 40mph especially along the coast.  Once the front moves through we’ll see temperatures drop into the 60s and the thick clouds will stay with us all day long.

This will also be a record setting front when it comes to our morning low temperatures.  Friday between 6:00 and 7:00am temperatures will drop into the 30s and 40s.  Here are the records for Houston, Galveston and College Station with my forecasted temperatures.

Friday:

Houston record from 1978 is 47 degrees I’m forecasting 46

Galveston 54 degrees from 1856 – forecast 49

College Station 45 degrees from 1954 – forecast 39

Fridayslow

Saturday:

Houston all time record low for the month of May is 44 degrees set in 1978, I’m forecasting 42 early Saturday morning.

Galveston 52 degrees from 1954 – forecast 54

College Station 42 degrees from 1954 – forecast 41

Saturdayslow

Click link to watch Thursday’s Webcast:

Thursday’s Webcast

Why Was There Ice If We Weren’t Below Freezing?
December 28, 2011

This is a good question from Steve noticing we weren’t officially below freezing Wednesday or Tuesday throughout much of Southeast Texas, but we did have a lot of frost on the ground and ice on the cars. 

Official temperature readings are taken 6 feet up so that things that occur on “ground surfaces, or any surface” doesn’t affect the outside temperature.  A car that has any moisture on the windows or roof will get what’s called evaporational cooling.  Evaporational cooling is similar to perspiration. When you work out your body sweats to cool itself. Moisture being evaporated will make a surface colder.  The air temperature may have been 37 degrees this morning, but grass or a car with moisture would have been below 32 degrees. Factors such as these are why it’s colder on surfaces than the surrounding air on a morning like this.

This is also a good example why official temperature reading are taken 6 feet in the air, away from tall buildings, with grass surrounding the weather station.  Most temperature records go back to the late 1800s, and accuracy is key to monitor how our environment is changing or not changing.  Imagine if a temperature gauge was near I-10 in the summer, we would set a high temperature record every day the sun is out. 

Why Has It Been So Cold This Winter?
February 15, 2011

  Click image to view Arctic Oscillation video.

In this video I explain what is called the arctic oscillation.  It has played a big role in bringing cold arctic air into the southern part of the United States this year and last.  Even though we are in the midst of big-time warm up, we will end up setting record cold temperatures for the month of February no matter how the month ends. 

How Cold Has It Been?
February 9, 2011

This is fascinating to me.  Looking at the month of February in an eleven year span from 2000 to 2010, Houston had only three days in the 20s.  2011 has had five and counting.

February 1st 24 degrees

February 2nd 21 degrees

February 3rd 28 degrees

February 4th 26 degrees

February 5th 24 degrees

The Winter Storm That Was… The Snow That Wasn’t
February 7, 2011

The alarm went off at 2 a.m., I jumped out of bed and ran to the window. The second that I saw there wasn’t any snow I knew I was in for a long day. On the ride to work I soon found we didn’t have snow, but we did have ¼” of ice blanketing Houston. On 610 I counted four single-car accidents. Every few hundred feet on the 59 freeway a car had spun out and hit the guardrail. Police cars and ambulances had their lights flashing warning of the oncoming danger. By 2:30 a.m., 41 calls came into 911 reporting accidents. Freezing rain is the most dangerous kind of winter weather, and a sheet of black ice was waiting for all those who ventured out Friday morning. Early on our broadcast I focused on the ice, below-freezing temperatures and how dangerous that combination was, but it wasn’t until I got an e-mail from 13-year-old Emily Whisenant that I started explaining why it didn’t snow. Emily, like most kids, was hoping for the white stuff, and, when it didn’t fall, she was crushed. What was strange about most of the negative e-mails I received Friday was that they were from kids hoping to make snowmen, snow angels and enjoy Houston covered in white.

So what went wrong? I could make the excuse that Houston is one of the few major cities in the country that doesn’t have its own upper level air analysis. That means forecasters have to rely on weather balloon data from Lake Charles, La., and Corpus Christi, Texas. Lake Charles showed a very warm layer of temperatures above ground, while Corpus Christi showed a deep column of below-freezing temperatures. It turned out our air was much more like Lake Charles than Corpus, and that is one of the reasons why we got the freezing rain but not the snow. But I’m not here to make excuses. I said there was an 80 percent chance we would get snow and even forecasted 1 to 3 inches of it on the ground.

It’s forecasts like this that keep me up at night.  Looking back there isn’t much I would change, but there are some things I would do different.

First, what went right. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch and warning for all of Southeast Texas. These are issued when driving is expected to be treacherous. There were more than 1,000 car accidents because of the ice, and the warnings kept most people at home and safe.

Second, school districts and cities did an excellent job making the call a day before to keep kids and workers home, knowing Friday morning would be dangerous.

What went wrong? As Emily simply put it, “It didn’t snow.”

I’ve looked at all of my forecasts I made last week and two things stick out. First, and you can check this out on my webcasts that are posted below, our model, which is exclusive to KPRC Local 2, showed that it would not snow in Houston. It always showed ice. I dismissed this because every other model showed snow falling. Looking back, I should have said this was more of a possibility. Something I’m going to try on our next big weather event is a bust percentage. It’s simple: what were the chances that it wouldn’t snow in Houston? Twenty percent. Somewhere in my presentation I need to say, “What is the chance it won’t snow? What is the chance this forecast busts? Twenty percent. Will this stop e-mails like the one I received from Emily? Probably not, but I will sleep better.

Snow & Ice Moving In – Winter Storm Warning
February 3, 2011

We have a classic setup to receive snow in Southeast Texas.  Low pressure moving in from South Texas picks up moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and moves over us, and below-freezing temperatures from the arctic blast will still be coming in from the north. 

The white line represents the temperature profile in the upper levels of the atmosphere.  We have a shallow layer of below-freezing temperatures along the coast.  What happens with a setup like this is rain falls but freezes once it hits the ground.  This makes freezing rain for our coastal counties and the most dangerous driving conditions.  We start with sleet in Houston this evening and the rain is freezing as it falls.  After a few hours this will all turn to snow.  We have a deep layer of below-freezing temperatures north of Houston, so all precipitation will fall as snow.  Because the temperatures have been in the 20s and 30s the snow and ice will stick and accumulate right away.   

By Friday morning we’ll have about a half-inch of ice in Galveston, 1 to 3 inches of snow in Houston, west and north with more northeast of Houston.  Be careful Friday morning, it will be dangerous on the roadways.

Click here to watch your Thursday’s webcast:

Winter Weather Alert Webcast

Winter Weather Survival Kit – Winner!
January 13, 2011

Photo by: Lance Additon, League City

I have to commute 42 miles from League City to the West Little York area, so I try to bundle up as much as I can while riding my motorcycle. Notice the plug for my electric gloves. A lot of people ask why I ride even in such cold weather conditions …. the answer is easy. For that long of a commute I only pay $6 round trip in gas, plus I get to use the HOV lane.

 Click image to watch us showing the kit on TV this morning. 

We did some construction on the weather office last week and when the dust settled I found this: a KPRC Local 2 Winter Weather Survival Kit.  I’m not sure exactly how old it is, but it’s probably 10 to 20 years old.  The Isotoner gloves are brittle and I hope the umbrella still opens (I didn’t test it.) There are, of course, winter weather survival tips included.  We’ve got one box to give away. It probably isn’t worth much, but it’s some cool Local 2 weather history and Lance Additon is our winner with the best how to stay warm photo.   

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.   

To view other weather quiz answers click here:
Past Weather Quiz Answers

How We Get Sleet
March 3, 2010

 

Sleet is defined as frozen raindrops that bounce on impact with the ground or other objects. The diagram below shows a typical temperature profile for sleet with the blue line indicating the atmosphere’s temperature at any given altitude. The vertical line in the center of the diagram is the freezing line. Temperatures to the left of this line are below freezing, while temperatures to the right are above freezing.

To view other weather quiz answers click here:
Past Weather Quiz Answers

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.