Rain has been hard to come by so far this month in most of Galveston County, with only 0.01” of rain at Galveston so far and 0.02” at the NWS Office in League City/Dickinson. This lack of moisture is particularly evident near the coast, where a persistent “cap” (layer of warm, stable air aloft) suppressed precipitation during March as well.
After three consecutive misses, will we have better luck later today or this evening? Well, we currently have a weak upper-level disturbance moving across Texas. This, combined with a mostly stationary cold front over the middle of the state, has set off a large area of showers and thunderstorms from near Waco into East Texas. While heavy rain will be possible north of Houston, it will take a fair amount of luck to see any meaningful rain here. What will need to happen is for outflow boundaries (rain-cooled air flowing out from the storms), in conjunction with daytime heating, to create enough instability in our area to bring us the needed rain. As I say….we will probably need some luck to have conditions develop in just the right way to end our dry spell.
Meanwhile, the Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State has issued is first 2017 hurricane season projections. The good news is that they are predicting a “below average” season for the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. Cooler than normal sea surface temperatures extending from the western Atlantic across the Bahamas into the eastern Gulf of Mexico and northwest Caribbean Sea, combined with a developing El Niño pattern later this summer, should keep tropical activity relatively low. El Niño conditions often produce upper-level wind shear, thereby disrupting storm formation.
While this is good news, we do have to remember that sea surface temperatures are running above normal in the western Gulf of Mexico and that Hurricane Alicia appeared in a similar environment in 1983. As the old saying goes: “it only takes one storm to ruin a season”.
So, I am happy with the early projections, but am never completely satisfied until the season ends with no storms locally.