Summer has definitely tightened its grip on Southeast Texas, though increased wind speeds, a few more clouds and a somewhat elevated chance for scattered thundershowers may make the heat a little more bearable over the next 2-3 days. Nevertheless, the outlook for the next week and beyond suggests that no major changes soon to our sultry pattern with high pressure continuing to dominate the weather.
Meanwhile, we are entering the heart of the Hurricane Season for the upper-Texas coast. Since 1875, no less than 25 tropical storms or hurricanes have had a major to moderate impact in Galveston County in the roughly six week period from August 15 through September 22. The list is a virtual rogue’s gallery of major local storms, including the 1875 hurricane, the 1900 Hurricane, the 1915 Hurricane, the 1932 Velasco Hurricane, the 1947 Hurricane, Carla in 1961, Alicia in 1983, and Ike in 2008.
Adding the moderate storms, this comes to 1 about every 6 years where a storm has had a significant impact locally. And, if we throw in 9 other storms that had more minor impacts, we have historically seen some effect locally about 1 in every 3 years during this crucial six week period.
With 7 named storms so far this year and another possibly brewing in the eastern Atlantic, what can we expect? The Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State on August 4 projected another 9 storms this season for a total of 16 (versus the average of 12). The National Hurricane Center on August 9, basically agreed with this assessment, projecting a total of 14-19 storms this season.
As important as the number of storms is, where the storms track may be of even more significance. Looking at the analog years: 1953, 1969, 1979, 2001 and 2004 (seasons with patterns similar to this one), we see that the pattern in those years seemed to favor tracks mostly to the east of Texas.
Certainly, that pattern would be welcome here. However, and equally important, it only takes one storm to ruin a season. Hurricane Carla, for example, came in a year when most storms headed further east.
Looking at the Tropics currently, Tropical Storm Gert is no threat to the Gulf of Mexico. However, we get a mixed picture when looking at the disturbance southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands. This morning’s European Model puts the system off the western tip of Cuba in a week, while the GFS breaks up the system northeast of Puerto Rico. Meanwhile, the projected path from the National Hurricane Center remains somewhat ambiguous through the next 5 days and track model arrays highlight the uncertainty. In other words, we need to keep an eye on the disturbance as we move through this week.