Mostly sunny and warm Thursday

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Around this time of year is when warm and sticky becomes the norm in Central Texas and Thursday promises to be no different, according to the National Weather Service.

For longtime Texans, calling a forecast high of 95 degrees “hot” might be going too far. However, with humidity sitting at 88 percent Thursday morning, it will feel like the day breaks into triple-digit territory this afternoon, the weather service said.

The skies will be mostly clear with a cloud here and there to offer a brief respite. No rain has been forecast, the weather service said.

Slight chances of rain and thunderstorms have been predicted for the rest of the week at 20 percent Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Daily forecast temperatures remain roughly the each day with highs in the mid-90s and lows in the mid-70s.

13-foot alligator washes up dead on Galveston beach

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Photo via Facebook Timeiki Hedspeth

In what is the second alligator to be spotted on a Texas beach over the weekend, a 13-foot gator washed up dead on Jamaica Beach near Galveston Sunday, KPRC-TV reports. Several beachgoers posed for pictures with the dead reptile, with some even sitting atop the animal.

One of the beachgoers who took pictures with the animal told Click2Houston she was concerned it might be “playing possum” and might wake up.

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department spokesman Steve Lightfoot said the animal was possibly sick or old and had most likely drowned. Lightfoot said that although alligators are freshwater creatures, they will occasionally venture into saltwater to cleanse their hide.

Wildlife officials also said the gator, like the many that have popped up in unexpected places across Texas recently, could have been displaced by recent and severe flooding.

Game wardens came out and removed the carcass. Following the incident, officials recommended avoiding alligators whether they appear dead or alive.

Texas gators pop up in unlikely spots following recent flooding

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Swimmers celebrating Father’s Day on the Texas coast in Brazoria County did not expect to be joined by a 7-foot alligator. But, as the Dallas Morning News reports, the gator made his way into uncharted waters and found himself in the surf at Surfside Beach Sunday.

While the visitors went on to successfully capture and deliver the gator to a Texas game warden, who then released the reptile back into the wild, not every recent gator encounter has gone quite as well.

According to the Dallas Morning News, another gator sighting at Sylvan Beach prompted officials to close down the area and involve Texas Parks and Wildlife and lifeguards in a lengthy search that yielded nothing.

A 12-foot alligator weighing in at 400 pounds and captured in Floresville outside of San Antonio last week, was put down after officials deemed the animal’s size “an issue of public safety,” the San Antonio Express News reports.

Officials told the Dallas Morning News that recent flooding has both displaced gators and lured them into unusual waters (i.e. the ocean) because of decreased salinity.

WATCH: Alligator Captured Behind Dallas Middle School

How weather in Texas directly affects butterfly populations elsewhere

Ricardo B. Brazziell/American-Statesman 4/21/12 Naomi Levy,6, gets a closer look with a couple of Monarch butterflies as she visits the butterfly house and garden center during the Insecta Fiesta at the Texas Natural Science Center, in Austin Texas on Saturday, April 21, 2012.
Ricardo B. Brazziell/American-Statesman 4/21/12 Naomi Levy,6, gets a closer look with a couple of Monarch butterflies as she visits the butterfly house and garden center during the Insecta Fiesta at the Texas Natural Science Center, in Austin Texas on Saturday, April 21, 2012.

According to a new scientific study, Texas weather dictates a little more than how much you can expect to sweat on a given day. In what’s being referred to as the “Texas butterfly effect,” a new model of forecasting organisms’ responses to climate change shows that the weather in Texas in the spring directly affects the number of monarch butterflies in the Midwest come summer.

Featured in a recent issue “Global Ecology and Biogeography” and conducted by researchers from Michigan State University, the study found that factors like “violent storms and flooding in Texas” can negatively effect the number of threatened monarchs that successfully migrate from Mexico to states such as Ohio and Illinois.

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So what kind of spring do we need in Texas to ensure a large number of happy, alive butterflies? According to ScienceDaily, a cooler spring with above average precipitation means a higher monarch population.

The model also determined that the prevalence of milkweed plants, what monarchs lay their eggs on, could influence population numbers.

READ: Help monarchs by planting milkweed — but make sure it’s native

According to biologist and co-author of the study Elise Zipkin, more accurate population estimates can help scientists in determining how climate change and extreme weather affects wildlife populations and, accordingly, how better to protect them.

READ: Austin biologist wants Texas to do more for Monarchs

Because of monarchs’ steadily declining numbers over the past decade, they have recently been considered for addition to the Endangered Species Act, Scientific American reports.

Humidity will make it feel like triple-digit temperatures outside

National Weather Service
National Weather Service

Austin forecast for Tuesday: The outlook from the National Weather Service this week calls for elevated heat index values. It simply means that the increased humidity will make the warm air temperatures feel about 10 degrees hotter.

According to the weather service, air temperatures through Thursday should climb into the lower to middle 90s, but the heat index values could rise to between 102 and 107 degrees in the afternoons.

On Tuesday, for instance, temperatures should soar to a high near 94 degrees. But heat index values could reach as high as 103.

As a result, forecasters are urging Central Texas residents to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. They also recommend taking frequent breaks in the shade or go indoors, and wear light-colored or loose-fitting clothing.

South-southeast winds of 10 to 15 mph will continue to bring humidity and moisture from the Gulf, contributing to partly cloudy skies Tuesday night and a balmy low temperature of around 77.

Meanwhile, the rest of the work week looks like a sticky one, according to the weather service:

  • Wednesday will be mostly sunny and hot, with a high near 97 but the rising heat index values could make it feel as hot as 106. At night, forecasters expect a low around 75 and southeast winds of 5 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.
  • Thursday also will be mostly sunny, with a high near 96. Similar to the night before, Thursday night should be mostly clear, with a low around 75 and southeast winds of 5 to 10 mph still keeping the air humid.
  • Friday should be sunny and hot with a high near 97. Expect another mostly clear night, with a low around 75 and warm south-southeast winds of 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.”

 

Watch: Texas 8th-grader films frightening bus ride through floodwaters

One concerned mother’s Facebook post has incited an investigation within the Montgomery Independent School District, the Houston Chronicle reports. Karin Baker Williams took to the site to express her anxiety over a video of her son’s frightening bus ride home during a week of extreme weather in Texas.

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via Facebook/Karin Baker Williams

The short video was filmed by Williams’ eighth-grade son who can be heard muttering, “Holy crap,” to himself as his bus slowly rolls through high, rushing water.

Facebook users commented on the post to express concern over the district’s decision to move forward with school as scheduled, and the bus driver’s decision to continue driving through the flooding.

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According to the Houston Chronicle, the district has since released a statement saying the incident is being investigated and outlining their driver guidelines during flooding:

Currently, our standard operating procedures for drivers in high water situations are: stop, observe traffic (any other vehicles crossing), can you see the road (stripes/markings), is the water less than 4 inches in depth, if not, then proceed and if the water does not cross the 1st step on the bus, the driver can continue across the low water area. If the water comes across the 1st step, the driver is to stop and reverse course.

Luckily no one was injured during this particular bus ride, but the video remains a convincing reminder that it’s always safer to “Turn around, don’t drown.”

Keep up with severe weather as it occurs, here, and check out today’s Austin weather forecast.

Watch: New Braunfels flooding sweeps away Jeep

via Facebook
via Facebook

One driver could do nothing but watch as his Jeep was swept away by the raging Guadalupe River in the middle of a week of extreme weather in Texas.

Kim Jacob took to Facebook to share a video of the incident, which occurred right outside her house. According to Jacob, the owner of the Jeep parked it near a bridge when the floodwater was only knee deep so that he could go check on his tent at a nearby campground.

Jacob clarifies that the driver was warned “not to and that the canyon was going to flood.”

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

The floodwaters quickly rose and “a huge wall of water came,” Jacobs wrote on her Facebook post. She then left to warn the Jeep owner, who came to watch his vehicle be washed away.

Although a sad fate for the Jeep, luckily no one was in the vehicle or injured during the incident. The video, however, serves as a reminder of the danger of water crossings and the power of flash floods. Keep up with this week’s forecasted sever weather here, and stay safe!

READ: What do flood advisories, watches and warnings mean?

Summer’s here … sort of

Meteorological vs. astronomical summer, per the NOAA. Please note: this is from 2013. Astronomical summer this year starts June 20.
Meteorological vs. astronomical summer, per the NOAA. Please note: this is from 2013. Astronomical summer this year starts June 20.

Don’t let the gray skies and storms rolling through Central Texas fool you. Summer is here. Kind of.

Today is the start of “meteorological summer.” And with El Niño having faded away and Memorial Day weekend kicking off Central Texas boating season, maybe someday soon it’ll even feel like a Texas summer.

Or maybe full-on summer won’t really arrive until June 20. When summer begins. Kind of.

The difference is that meteorological summer is a calendar marker based on annual temperatures. It’s mainly used in — wait for it — meteorology.

June 20 is the start of astronomical summer this year. That marker is based on the relative positions of the Earth and sun. That has more to do with the length of days. It’s also the more commonly used marker.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

“People have used observable periodic natural phenomena to mark time for thousands of years. The natural rotation of the Earth around the sun forms the basis for the astronomical calendar, in which seasons are defined by two solstices and two equinoxes. Both the solstices and equinoxes are determined based on the Earth’s tilt and the sun’s alignment over the equator. The solstices mark the times when the sun’s annual path is farthest, north or south, from the Earth’s equator. The equinoxes mark the times when the sun passes directly above the equator. In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice falls on or around June 21, the winter solstice on or around December 22, the vernal (spring) equinox on or around March 21, and the autumnal equinox on or around September 22.”

So don’t be fooled. Summer starts today. And later this month.

Flash flood watch for Austin metro area extended to Friday morning

National Weather Service
National Weather Service

Wednesday forecast for Austin: Central Texas, build your arks now.

A flash flood watch has been extended until Friday morning for the Austin metro area, the National Weather Service says.

Heavy rainfall is expected in Central Texas beginning Wednesday through Thursday night, with anticipated widespread rainfall totals between 3 and 5 inches over the next two days, according to forecasters. Some locations could see as much as 10 inches in that same period, the weather service says.

With many parts of Central Texas saturated from previous rains this week and most of the region’s streams and rivers at elevated levels, any heavy rainfall will likely result in rapid flash flooding.

A flash flood watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding, the weather service says. Residents in the affected areas should monitor media reports and weather forecasts and be prepared to take action if flash flood warnings are issued.

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

Meanwhile, Wednesday morning commuters need to watch out for patchy dense fog until 8 a.m. Areas from the eastern edge of the Hill Country to east of the Interstate 35 corridor face limited visibility of a quarter-mile or less, the weather service says.

Once the fog subsides, the chances for showers and thunderstorms producing heavy rainfall will ramp up. For Wednesday, rainfall amounts between ¾ inch and 1 inch are possible during the day and into the evening, forecasters say.

According to the weather service, it’s more heavy rain in the forecast for the rest of the work week and the weekend:

  • A cold front on Thursday is expected to arrive in the Austin metro area, dropping daily temperatures and generating strong storms that could produce heavy rainfall throughout the day and night.
  • Friday’s outlook anticipates another day with a 60 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms with temperatures ranging from around 67 to 81 degrees.
  • On Saturday, the chance for storms persists at 60 percent as north-northeast winds keep daily temperatures cooler below 80 degrees under mostly cloudy skies.
  • By Sunday, the forecast includes a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms but sunshine could return as temperatures peak near 84.

Free download: Statesman Weather app

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.”