Thunderstorms late Monday; high winds, gusts Tuesday; sunshine Wednesday

National Weather Service
National Weather Service

Monday forecast for Austin: After a cloudy and humid weekend, Central Texas saw measurable rainfall overnight and should be waking up to wet lawns and damp roads. That most recent batch of rain is well to the east Monday morning, but another round of storms is expected later at night.

The National Weather Service outlook for Monday calls for a 40 percent chance of rain, mainly before noon, under cloudy skies and a high temperature near normal, around 67. At night, the 90 percent chance for thunderstorms makes heavy rain a near certainty, as northeast winds of 5 to 10 mph become south-southeast after midnight.

Rain chances remain in the forecast Tuesday at 70 percent, with showers and thunderstorms likely before noon, the weather service says. But the morning clouds will give way to sunshine and a high near 70.

The bigger story Tuesday will be the strong, possibly damaging, winds, first blowing from the southeast at 10 to 20 mph before becoming northwest breezes of 20 to 30 mph later in the morning. Winds could gust as high as 35 mph, the weather service says. At night, the evening low drops to around 44 but winds continue to bluster from the north-northwest at 25 to 30 mph before diminishing somewhat to 15 to 20 mph. Wind gusts could reach 35 mph. The weather service recommends residents secure loose items in the yard and asks drivers to use caution because the gusts could make steering difficult.

By Wednesday, rain disappears from the forecast as the weather service calls for sunny skies and a high near 63. Blustery winds continue with north-northwest breezes at 10 to 20 mph and gusts as high as 25 mph. Evening skies will be clear, but the drop in humidity brings an extra chill in the air: the nighttime low plummets to around 38.


Statesman Weather app keeps Central Texans forewarned

The all-new American-Statesman weather app is available for iPhone and Android devices. Statesman Weather features include radar, a 7-day forecast, real-time severe weather alerts, as well as the latest weather news and social sharing. Download for free in the Apple iTunes and Google Play stores by searching for “Statesman Weather.”

Watch: Yosemite’s breathtaking ‘firefall’ returns

The conditions are just right: Enough snow sits atop the El Capitan rock formation; the sky is clear west of the sunset, which is offering enough sunlight to slowly melt the snow, and it’s near the middle of the month of February. Each of these factors helps set the stage for one of the many wonders Yosemite National Park has to offer: firefall.

The “firefall” is a phenomenon that occurs when the setting sun hits El Capitan’s seasonal waterfall Horsetail Fall and makes it appear red and orange, as if set aflame. Hundreds of people gather each year to witness the event, which only lasts about ten minutes each day, and take pictures.

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The Phenomenon! Anyone can take this picture as long as they are at the right place at the right time. This phenomenon occurs for about 10 days in the month of February. There must be enough snow on top of the El Capitan mountain. There must be enough sunlight to melt it and cause flow through Horse Tail falls. There must be a clear sky to the west at sunset. And that is when the rays of the setting sun transform the white water of Horsetail falls to the color of a raging inferno. This is the first time in 5 years that I have been trying to get this shot, that all the elements worked out. Its not a shot that requires much physical exertion or technical expertise. But when all the elements of nature come together for the "Fire Falls" show its definitely worth photographing. #yosemite #horsetailfalls #california #nationalparks #earthofficial #majestic_earth #awesomeearthpix #wildlifeplanet #splendid_shotz #earthporn #earthpix #nature_sultans#waycoolshots #magic_shots#visualsoflife#visitcalifornia#rawcalifornia #ig_masterpiece #jaw_dropping_shots #fantastic_earth #ourplanetdaily #photowall

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The naming of this phenomenon may have something to do with a man-made, and literal, firefall. You can read one report below:

Each evening in the summer, a roaring bonfire was built at the edge of Glacier Point, which towers 3,200 feet above Yosemite Valley. By sundown hundreds of spectators had gathered in Curry Village below. At 9pm sharp, a master of ceremonies in Curry Village shouted out, “Let the Fire Fall!” and the bonfire’s glowing embers were pushed over the edge of Glacier Point, creating a glittering “Waterfall of Fire.”

Check out today’s Austin weather forecast here.

Balmy dawn, temperatures around 80 on Friday; rain likely Sunday night into Monday

National Weather Service
National Weather Service

Friday forecast for Austin: Have you been outside yet?

As of 5 a.m. at Camp Mabry in Central Austin, it’s already 64 degrees, which is right around what our normal high temperature ought to be for this time of year. After such a balmy start to the day, highs today should climb to around 80, the National Weather Service says.

Strong south-southeast winds are driving Gulf moisture into the Austin metro area, which means morning commuters could see patchy fog before 10 a.m., the weather service says. The fog will give way to mostly sunny skies during the day, but the fog is expected to return at night as temperatures drop to around 61.

The outlook for Saturday calls for patchy fog before 11 a.m. again, but more cloudiness for the rest of the day as highs peak around 78. At night, the clouds linger as the low temperature slips to around 61.

But measurable rain returns to the forecast on Sunday, which has a 20 percent chance of showers after 7 a.m. By Sunday night, rain chances increase to 60 percent with thunderstorms possible after 7 p.m., forecasters say. Rainfall totals may not exceed more than a quarter-inch, but in Austin, we’ll take what we can get.

The rain comes as a cold front mingles with warm Gulf moisture in Central Texas on Sunday night. The arrival of the front also means an end to the southerly breezes that have been keeping the days warmer than normal; south winds become northerly gusts after midnight.

On Monday, showers remain likely and a thunderstorm is possible before 7 a.m. as rain chances grow to 60 percent. Cloudy skies continue as the high temperature only reaches 66, the normal temperature for this time of year. At night, the forecast calls for a 50 percent chance of rain with a low dropping all the way down to 48, the weather service says.


Statesman Weather app keeps Central Texans forewarned

The all-new American-Statesman weather app is available for iPhone and Android devices. Statesman Weather features include radar, a 7-day forecast, real-time severe weather alerts, as well as the latest weather news and social sharing. Download for free in the Apple iTunes and Google Play stores by searching for “Statesman Weather.”

A little more warmth, then a cold(er) snap

Bob Rose, the weather guru for the Lower Colorado River Authority, notes in a Tuesday blog post that the temperature in Austin in February has averaged 3.5 degrees above normal. That’ll continue through this weekend, more than likely.

But, Rose adds, forecasts are calling for a cold front to come in Sunday. And that one, unlike a few recent ones, should bring moisture with it. That means some chance of rain Sunday, with thunderstorms and light rain expected Sunday night and Monday. Then a cold front traveling south should clear the skies out and plunge the area’s highs into the (gasp!) 60s.

By the way, the Pope’s visit to Mexico wrapped up on Wednesday. On Thursday he should be back home in the world’s tiniest nation. Just how did the world end up with that tiny nation? This delightful little video explains. Happy Thursday!

Fog for morning commuters Thursday; cloudy weekend expected

National Weather Service
National Weather Service

Thursday forecast for Austin: Strong southerly winds carrying moisture from the Gulf will shape weather conditions on Friday, starting with patchy fog that could spoil travel for morning commuters across the Austin metro area.

The fog is expected to burn off after 9 a.m., but the National Weather Service outlook for Friday calls for mostly cloudy skies before turning sunny later in the day. With temperatures expected to reach 79 and winds kicking up to 15 to 20 mph — as well as gusts of up to 25 — it typically translates into wildfire danger, but higher humidity levels from the Gulf moisture carried by the south winds could douse that threat.

Clouds increase Friday night and the humidity keeps the evening low to only around 60 — that’s only 4 degrees cooler than the normal high for this time of year.

The weekend outlook calls for mostly cloudy skies but temperatures will peak in the mid- to upper 70s, the weather service says. Saturday could see a high near 77 and a nighttime low at a balmy 61.

The first chance of rain — about 20 percent — appears on Sunday, the weather service says. The high is expected to reach 74. Sunday night, rain chances increase to 50 percent with possible thunderstorms, forecasters say. The warm south-southeast winds around 5 mph becoming much cooler west-northwest breezes after midnight.

The work week begins with a 40 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms. North winds of 5 to 10 mph will cool things off, ending the streak of 70-plus-degree days as temperatures will be capped at 69, the weather service says.


Statesman Weather app keeps Central Texans forewarned

The all-new American-Statesman weather app is available for iPhone and Android devices. Statesman Weather features include radar, a 7-day forecast, real-time severe weather alerts, as well as the latest weather news and social sharing. Download for free in the Apple iTunes and Google Play stores by searching for “Statesman Weather.”

Appreciating Austin’s outstanding weather, in two charts

We’re looking at high temperatures in the upper 70s to the lower 80s for the rest of the week in the Austin area, according to the National Weather Service.

Look, we all know it’s going to get hot again here at some point. Really hot. El Niño won’t stick around forever, and since the start of the year it hasn’t even been delivering the typical cooler-and-wetter conditions to Central Texas anyway. It may even give way this summer to a La Niña, which is basically El Niño’s bizarro twin, bringing hot and dry conditions (and possibly drought). At that point, life gets less pleasant. The rest of the nation will worry or just gawk at how hot and dry Texas can get.

So in the meantime, compare and contrast these two graphics — an Austin area forecast and a weather summary for Buffalo, N.Y. — enjoy:

austin

 

buffalo

What winter? More sunshine, warmth on Wednesday; storms possible Sunday

National Weather Service
National Weather Service

Wednesday forecast for Austin: We didn’t break the heat record on Tuesday, but we sure came close to matching it. Temperatures soared as high as 82, just two degrees shy of the daily record of 84 set in 1982, according to the National Weather Service.

Wednesday won’t see the same near-record heat — but that’s only because the heat record for the day is 92 degrees set in 1959. Instead, Austin should see high temperatures about 10 degrees above normal, peaking around 75 degrees. The northeast winds 5 to 10 mph should become south-southeast breezes in the afternoon, the weather service says. At night, the skies should see increased cloudiness while temperatures bottom out around 52.

The clouds linger on Thursday morning before giving way to sunshine later in the day. Forecasters say temperatures should hit 79, with south winds of 5 to 15 mph. Clouds gather again at night but the increased humidity should keep the overnight low to a balmy 58 degrees.

Friday’s outlook calls for mostly sunny skies with a high near 82 — not quite a record but more than 15 degrees above normal. At night, forecasters expect partly cloudy skies and a low around 59.

Clouds linger Saturday but temperatures remain well above normal, as the weather service calls for a high near 78. Skies stay mostly cloudy at night as the evening low slips to 59 degrees.

Now here’s where things get interesting: A slight chance of showers is in the forecast for Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. Sunday’s outlook calls for a 20 percent chance of rain and possible thunderstorms later in the day. By Sunday night, rain chances increase to 40 percent. Temperatures are still expected to peak above normal in the upper 70s.

Cooler air moves into Central Texas by Monday, which means not only does a 40 percent chance of rain persist, but the forecast calls for temperatures to fall to normal levels with a high near 68.


Statesman Weather app keeps Central Texans forewarned

The all-new American-Statesman weather app is available for iPhone and Android devices. Statesman Weather features include radar, a 7-day forecast, real-time severe weather alerts, as well as the latest weather news and social sharing. Download for free in the Apple iTunes and Google Play stores by searching for “Statesman Weather.”

Near-record heat in Austin on Tuesday; streak of dry sunny days continues

National Weather Service
National Weather Service

Tuesday forecast for Austin: Wait a minute, what month is this? Where’s the rain from El Niño? What happened to winter?

Yes, it’s chilly so far, with temperatures starting just below 50 Tuesday morning, but it’s going to get about 30 degrees hotter, according to the National Weather Service.

Austin will come close to matching the heat record for Feb. 16 on Tuesday as temperatures are expected to reach at least 80 degrees, just short of the record high of 84 set in 1982, forecasters say. A weak front arrives in Central Texas in the afternoon that will bring a wind shift from the north, the weather service says.

As we’ve seen for weeks, sunny skies and warm temperatures dominate the outlook for Tuesday and the net several days. Temperatures will remain 10 to 15 degrees above normal values for this time of the year, the weather service says.

The sun rises over the Texas State Capitol on Tuesday. (Ralph Barrera / American-Statesman)
The sun rises over the Texas State Capitol on Tuesday. (Ralph Barrera / American-Statesman)

Wednesday will be sunny with a high near 78 before turning partly cloudy at night. Low temperatures in the evening drop to around 53, forecasters say.

Thursday’s outlook calls for mostly sunny skies and a high near 79. Winds from the south of 5 to 15 mph will include gusts as high as 20 mph. The cloudiness continues at night, which will keep temperatures higher than normal around 59. Southerly breezes stay strong at 10 to 15 mph.

The work week ends Friday under mostly sunny skies and a high near 80 — way hotter than normal, but not as hot as the record temperature of 93 set in 1986. South winds of 10 to 15 mph will keep conditions breezy. At night, partly cloudy skies will be coupled with a low around 59.


Statesman Weather app keeps Central Texans forewarned

The all-new American-Statesman weather app is available for iPhone and Android devices. Statesman Weather features include radar, a 7-day forecast, real-time severe weather alerts, as well as the latest weather news and social sharing. Download for free in the Apple iTunes and Google Play stores by searching for “Statesman Weather.”

Winter on hold this week: High temps in 70s and 80s, sunshine and no rain yet

National Weather Service
National Weather Service

Monday forecast for Austin: Winter appears to be on hold this week, as temperatures should climb into the upper 70s and the lower 80s, according to the National Weather Service. The flip side to the spring-like temperatures and seemingly unceasing streak of sunny days is that Austin hasn’t seen any significant rain for more than a month — and still won’t for at least another week.

Although patchy drizzle before 10 a.m. is in the forecast, fog is the danger Monday morning for commuters coming out of Fredericksburg and Blanco. The Austin school district has the day off Monday, so schoolkids could take advantage of the partly sunny conditions, with high temperatures around 76. At night, skies will clear and north winds will diminish as the evening low falls to around 47, the weather service says.

Temperatures approach record territory on Tuesday with a forecasted daily high near 81. Sunny skies coupled with light and variable winds in the daytime become clear skies and calm winds in the evening with a nighttime low around 49.

Wednesday’s temperatures won’t break any records (it’ll be tough to top the Feb. 17 record high of 92 set in 1959), but the heat will definitely make you break a sweat as the high approaches 81 with light and variable winds. At night, the outlook calls for clear skies and a low around 53.

Thursday and Friday share a similar forecast: Mostly sunny skies, with a high near 79 and a nighttime low around 60.


Statesman Weather app keeps Central Texans forewarned

The all-new American-Statesman weather app is available for iPhone and Android devices. Statesman Weather features include radar, a 7-day forecast, real-time severe weather alerts, as well as the latest weather news and social sharing. Download for free in the Apple iTunes and Google Play stores by searching for “Statesman Weather.”

 

Where’s that Godzilla El Niño that was supposed to make Austin wetter than normal?

What the heck happened to the Godzilla El Niño?

That is a question a lot of Central Texans have been asking the National Weather Service, and one posed earlier this week by the Texas Standard. After all, we’re still experiencing an unusually strong El Niño – a cyclical weather pattern in the Pacific characterized by a warming of surface temperatures – and that pattern helped to produce an unusually cool and damp fall/early winter here, as El Niños tend to do. But come 2016 the skies dried up and the weather went through periods of unseasonable warmth. Earlier this week we even hit particularly dangerous wildfire conditions.

So what gives? Is this really what a wetter-than-normal winter should look like?:

rbb-weather-5
AMERICAN-STATESMAN file photo

It could be that the Godzilla El Niño just got tired and needed to catch its breath, as the Texas Standard interview suggested, particularly with May and June typically being rainy months. But Paul Yura, the second-in-command of the National Weather Service office that serves Central Texas, said there is another possible answer. It involves making a distinction between normal El Niños, which crop up every few years, and particularly strong ones, which are rare.

The normal ones tend to bring higher-than-typical rainfall. The really strong ones actually don’t. It’s not clear exactly why. It’s also a distinction that tends not to get raised a lot. There have been only a handful of the really powerful El Niños, which means using them to predict how the weather of future will be is little dicey. (It’s a “small sample size,” in research parlance, a situation that tends to give scientists the heebie-jeebies.)

Still, in light of the (admittedly small) amount of info yielded by previous Godzilla-scale El Niños, today’s weather might not be that strange, Yura said. Perhaps the wet weather of the fall was the anomaly.

Larry Hopper, another forecaster at the Weather Service office, added another possible explanation about why what we’re seeing now might not be that weird. He noted that Central Texas was so far ahead of its typical rainfall totals last year – the second-wettest on record in Austin – that a dry stretch could simply be returning to the totals a typical El Niño yields, totals that are still above normal. Rain does not typically fall in a steady pitter-patter in Central Texas, but tends to come in cycles; an unusually wet period followed by a dry period can still be wetter than usual if they are averaged together.

“We might have had most of our rainfall on the front end,” Yura said.

And, though January may have seemed unusually warm, the average high of 63 degrees was just above the normal average high of 61.5 degrees.

The fire danger may stick around a while. The rains of last year saturated the ground, which in turn led to well-watered foliage, which is a good thing if you like lots of healthy foliage, but can present a problem when the weather turns dry. Lots of well-grown plant life is drying out. That means more fuel added to the fires.

“When we go through a wet period,” Yura said, “it’s usually followed by a high risk of wildfires.”