Horrendous traffic reported Tuesday evening

Traffic is much more congested than usual Tuesday as Austinites head home in the rain, and drivers should expect to spend an extra 20 to 45 minutes than normal on the road.

Traffic reporter Joe Taylor, who reports on traffic for several Austin radio stations, said this is extreme, even for Austin.

Google Maps shows that all our major roadways are more congested than usual during rush hour Tuesday:

traffic

Scattered showers Tuesday but heavy rains expected Wednesday, Thursday

National Weather Service
National Weather Service

Austin forecast for Tuesday: Some isolated showers and thunderstorms in Central Texas this Tuesday morning could become more scattered across the Hill Country and the Interstate 35 corridor later in the day, the National Weather Service says. Rainfall amounts will be mainly less than a quarter-inch, forecasters say.

The weather service said the Austin metro area and the Hill Country could see significant rainfall Wednesday and Thursday, adding an additional 3 to 6 inches in an already saturated area.

UPDATES: Get hour-by-hour weather forecast at Statesman.com/weather

Because the ground in the Austin metro area remains soaked from heavy rainfalls last week, any additional rain could trigger flash flooding, the weather service says.

Tuesday’s outlook calls for a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 7 a.m., forecasters say. But rain chances creep up to 50 percent in the evening under mostly cloudy skies. Up to a quarter-inch in new rainfall could occur, the weather service says. South-southeast winds of 5 to 10 mph will deliver moisture from the Gulf that will keep the air humid and temperatures above 70 degrees at night.

The weather service expects a very rainy week ahead:

  • On Wednesday, showers and thunderstorms are likely and will produce heavy rainfall. The chance of precipitation is 70 percent and rainfall amounts between ¾ inch and 1 inch are possible. Thunderstorms are expected to continue at night.
  • Thursday’s outlook also calls for a 70 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms that will produce heavy rainfall as a cold front pushes through Central Texas, sinking daily temperatures about 10 degrees lower. Heavy rain will continue at night.
  • On Friday, showers and thunderstorms again are likely to produce heavy rain during the day and into the evening. North-northeast winds around 5 mph become calm in the evening but help keep the nighttime low temperature to a cool 65 degrees.
  • Saturday will be yet another day with at least a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Rain chances ease slightly to 40 percent but skies will remain mostly cloudy.
  • Sunday’s forecast also calls for a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, but sunshine is expected to return later in the day as temperatures climb to a high near 83.

Statesman Weather app keeps Central Texans forewarned

The 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.”

Turn around, don’t drown: Here’s what to do at a low water crossing

As severe weather pounds Central Texas, keep safety first. Looking for flooded low water crossings in your area? The interactive map at ATXfloods is the place to check for current flood conditions and emergency road closures in the Austin area.

Local law enforcement blocks off the north Dry Creek bridge where a stranded vehicle from the rising flood water in South Austin on early Friday Morning, May 27, 2016. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Local law enforcement blocks off the north Dry Creek bridge where a stranded vehicle from the rising flood water in South Austin on early Friday Morning, May 27, 2016.
RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

SEE MORE PHOTOS OF STORMS AND FLOODING IN CENTRAL TEXAS

During severe weather, the safest thing to do is avoid the roads. But if you must drive, the city of Austin offers several safety tips.

About 75% of flood-related deaths in Texas occur in vehicles. At night, during heavy storms, it may be difficult to see that a road is flooded. Survivors have told us that they did not even see water on the road until their vehicle stalled in it.

DOWNLOAD: Statesman Weather app keeps you forewarned oniPhone and Android devices

Realizing that not all flooded roads will be barricaded, take the following precautions:

  • Avoid low water crossings.
  • Actively look for water over the road.
  • Turn around if a road is barricaded or if water is over the road. Keep in mind that the road may be heavily damaged underneath the flood water.

RELATED: Closures, cancellations, delays following overnight storms

There’s high danger at low water crossings. Find out what to do if you get trapped in your vehicle in flood waters.

RELATED: Flash flood warning for parts of Travis, Hays counties

Closures, cancellations, delays following overnight storms

Local law enforcement block off highway 71 and 183 early Friday morning May 27,2016. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Local law enforcement block off highway 71 and 183 early Friday morning May 27,2016.
RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Following heavy rainfall overnight, multiple school districts in the Central Texas region are operating on a delay or have canceled class.

Bastrop and Austin school districts were previously scheduled to be closed today due to the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

As of 7:30 a.m., nearly 250 low water crossings monitored by ATXfloods were closed.

Capital Area Rural Transportation System (CARTS) will have delayed service on some routes and possible cancellations due to rain.

The Capital Metro bus system is expecting delays along Routes 237 and 271.

 

Severe storms possible Thursday, Friday; rain chances persist through Memorial Day weekend

National Weather Service
National Weather Service

Thursday forecast for Austin: As we start this muggy Thursday with temperatures already near 80 degrees — as of 6 a.m., it’s 78 degrees at Camp Mabry in Central Austin — we can look forward to yet another possible round of severe weather in the Austin metro area.

Once again, as in the past few rounds of heavy rain and strong storms this month, the National Weather Service is warning residents Thursday about the threat of hail and severe storms along and west of the Interstate 35 corridor, which includes the Austin metro area.

 

Showers and thunderstorms are likely, mainly after 7 a.m., the weather service says. Rainfall amounts between a quarter-inch and a half-inch are possible. At night, more thunderstorms producing heavy rainfall are likely.Additional rainfall amounts between 1 and 2 inches are possible, forecasters say.

Looking ahead to Memorial Day weekend, forecasters say the weather won’t be anything nearly as catastrophic as it was last year. At worst, they’re expecting a possibility of some severe weather on Friday but otherwise a mostly cloudy, muggy and occasionally rainy holiday weekend:

  • Thunderstorms are likely on Friday as the outlook calls for a 70 percent chance of precipitation under mostly cloudy skies and a high temperature near 85 degrees. South-southeast winds of 5 to 10 mph at night will continue to deliver moisture from the Gulf and keep rain chances around 30 percent. The heat-trapping humidity will keep nighttime temperatures above a balmy 71 degrees.
  • Saturday’s forecast includes a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, but sunshine should reappear for most of the day as temperatures climb to near 88 degrees. At night, a 20 percent chance of rain persists under mostly cloudy skies and an evening low around 72.
  • On Sunday, rain chances continue at 30 percent under mostly cloudy skies and a high near 86. A 30 percent chance of showers lingers into the evening.
  • The Memorial Day outlook calls for a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms under mostly cloudy skies and a high near 85. Rain chances stay significant at night as the evening low settles around 70 degrees.
  • Most of us will return to work on Tuesday with a 40 percent chance of rain in the forecast. The mostly cloudy day could see temperatures climb to near 86. At night, rain chances will ease to 30 percent, the weather service says.

Statesman Weather app keeps Central Texans forewarned

The 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.”

What do flood advisories, watches and warnings mean?

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in May 2016.

The first of what could be several lines of thunderstorms might arrive in Central Texas this evening. They are likely to bring heavy rain, which, this being “flash flood alley,” means we’ll probably be hearing various advisories from the National Weather Service.

But what do those mean?

Here is a handy-dandy chart, courtesy of the Weather Service:

CjPxF1xUYAAB59P

Basically, an advisory means watch out for slick roads and similar issues. A watch means “watch out,” as flooding is possible in spots across a wide area. A warning means there is a good chance flooding is about to happen, or is already happening.

Chance of rain Wednesday; severe weather more likely Thursday, Friday

National Weather Service
National Weather Service

Wednesday forecast for Austin: What a warm start to Wednesday: As of 5 a.m., it’s already 77 degrees and muggy at Camp Mabry in Central Austin!

The National Weather Service says communities in the Rio Grande plains and areas farther west of the Austin metro area could see severe weather on Wednesday, but the chances for anything worse than isolated storms are much lower in Austin and the urban areas along the Interstate 35 corridor.

The weather service expects much nastier storms to roll through the Austin metro area on Thursday afternoon and Friday, with heavy rain, hail and damaging winds being the likely threats.

Wednesday’s outlook calls for a 20 percent chance of storms after 2 p.m. under cloudy skies with a high near 88 degrees. Add the increased humidity to the mix and heat index values will rise, which means it will feel more like 97 degrees outside. Rain chances increases to 40 percent, mainly after 8 p.m. Heat-trapping humidity will keep nighttime temperatures no cooler than 74 degrees, forecasters say.

  • On Thursday, thunderstorms are likely, mainly between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Some of the storms could produce heavy rainfall, the weather service says. Rainfall amounts between 0.75 and 1 inch are possible. South-southeast winds around 10 mph will continue to bring Gulf moisture and increased humidity levels.
  • On Friday, thunderstorms are also likely between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. and some storms could produce heavy rain. South-southeast winds of 10 to 15 mph could include gusts as high as 20 mph. At night, the chance of precipitation remains at 60 percent.
  • By Saturday, rain chances diminish to 30 percent, with the main threat of rain occurring before 8 a.m. Forecasters expect sunshine to return as temperatures climb to around 88 degrees. At night, a 20 percent chance of rain remains under mostly cloudy skies.
  • Sunday’s outlook calls for a 30 percent chance of rain, mainly after 8 a.m. under mostly cloudy skies and a high near 85.
  • The forecast for Memorial Day includes a 30 percent chance of storms under mostly cloudy skies and a high near 85.

Steamy, sticky weather Tuesday, Wednesday; storms looming Thursday, Friday

National Weather Service
National Weather Service

Tuesday forecast for Austin: Welcome to another steamy morning in the Austin metro area, beginning with warm temperatures in the lower to mid-70s. The National Weather Service says Tuesday’s outlook could include a chance of sprinkles before noon and a possibility of isolated storms in the afternoon as the high temperature climbs into the upper 80s.

South southeast winds of 5 to 15 mph should continue to bring Gulf moisture into the region, which means increased cloudiness and rising levels of heat-trapping humidity at night. Rain chances should also remain around 20 percent, forecasters say. With daily temperatures becoming no cooler than 75 degrees, expect another sticky night in Austin.

Clouds will linger for the rest of the work week, with heavy rain expected Thursday and Friday, according to the weather service:

  •  Wednesday’s forecast includes a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 8 a.m. under mostly cloudy skies and a high near 90. Humidity combined with the warmth could cause heat index values to rise, making it feel more like 99 degrees outside. At night, rain chances persist at 20 percent as evening temperatures stay above 73.
  • Thursday’s outlook calls for a 60 percent chance of rain with storms likely after 8 a.m., the weather service says. South-southeast winds of 5 to 15 mph could include gusts as high as 20 mph. Thunderstorms will remain likely at night, but mainly before 8 p.m.
  • On Friday, showers and thunderstorms also are likely, mainly between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., forecasters say. Rain chances will run as high as 60 percent under mostly cloudy skies with temperatures staying above 71 degrees at night and south-southeast winds 5 to 10 mph.

Statesman Weather app keeps Central Texans forewarned

The 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.”

El Nino is over

elnino

El Niño is dead. Long live El Niño.

The weather pattern in the Pacific, characterized by unusually warm surface water near the equator, has dissipated as temperatures returned to normal, according to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center.

In layman’s terms, “El Niño has ended,” said Bob Rose, an Austin-based meteorologist with the Lower Colorado River Authority.

Rose has particular reason to monitor El Niños. Central Texas tends to enter wetter-and-cooler-than-normal periods during El Niño. That often means more storms. This has been a wacky weather year: a wet fall, a historically dry start to the year, and then a wet and stormy spring. As Rose noted, the past 12 months have been the wettest May-to-May stretch in Camp Mabry’s history, with 59.61 inches recorded there. Thought El Niño has dissipated, most forecasters expect a few more storms — after all, May is by far the most severe-weather-prone period of the year here — before summer settles in.

At its peak, this El Niño was among the strongest on record. It quickly earned the nickname of “the Godzilla El Nino.” (I’m going to miss linking to that image.)

The Godzilla El Niño battled The Omega Block. It took a winter siesta. It delivered a storm during which a Houston forecaster threatened on air to “kick someone’s behind.” Though it is gone now, its influence endures. This summer will probably be mild by Central Texas standards, according to most forecasts.

Our luck will probably end this fall. Forecasters say there is a high probability that later this year we will enter La Niña, El Niño’s bizarro twin. That probably means a period of hotter-and-drier-than-normal weather. And Central Texas is naturally hot and dry.

And so, in memory of an El Niño that is now only that, please enjoy this final tribute:

Hurricane season means increased flood risk — even in Austin

IMG_0540

In a little more than a week, the Atlantic hurricane season will start, stretching from June 1 to Nov. 30. Government officials are worried that people will not take it seriously enough — especially in places such as Central Texas.

A hurricane that makes landfall will not hit the Austin area, of course. But hurricanes that reach the Houston area or Louisiana coast do tend to send off tendrils that can soak Central Texas, exacerbating the ever-present risk of flooding in this region of rocky terrain, thin soils and a propensity for downpours.

This summer that risk has been further heightened by the last half-year of rainy weather. The soil is already saturated.

A week ago, officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tried to emphasize this point by holding a kickoff for Hurricane Awareness Week in San Antonio. Normally, such events happen in coastal communities. Why not keep the focus on the communities most at risk? Because San Antonio, like Austin, is prone to flash flooding, and sees that threat increased when hurricanes approach the coast.

“The inland flooding threat here is very significant,” said Dan Brown, a meteorologist and warning coordinator with the Miami-based National Hurricane Center.

Various forecasts are calling for a hurricane season that could bring the typical 12 named storms, or could bring significantly more than that. The official government forecast is coming out this week. But the federal weather officials in San Antonio last week brushed aside speculation about how active this hurricane season will be. They argue there is little correlation between the number of storms that appear in a season and the major question: whether one of those hurricanes will make landfall.

“Those (forecasts) have no bearing on whether (hurricanes) will make landfall or not,” said Steven Cooper, acting director of the National Weather Service’s southern region. “And it only takes one.”

Last year, he said, Tropical Storm Bill produced flooding hundreds of miles from Matagorda Island, where it made landfall.

Cooper also noted that hurricanes increase the risk of tornadoes. They are not generally a major threat in Central Texas. But in 1980s, Hurricane Aiden spun off storms as it began to dissipate, and one of those storms caused a tornado that hit what was then Robert Mueller Municipal Airport, according to the Weather Service. The tornado caused $250 million in damage.


The Weather Service and other government agencies offered the following advice to people to prepare for hurricanes (or other severe weather):

• Check your flood insurance. And then check that against the flood hazard information available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

• Create a family communication plan. Know how you’re all going to get ahold of one another, particularly if high winds knock out cell towers.

• Keep emergency supplies. That’s things like flashlights, batteries, bottled water, canned food. Remember, it doesn’t make you a survivalist unless you keep them in your fallout shelter.

• Remember that if you have pets, you will probably also have to care for their well-being.

• Know the evacuation routes in your community.

• Listen to local officials. And have a means, such as a NOAA weather radio, of doing so.

Don’t panic.