The latest cold spell has resulted in an epidemic of frozen pipes around Galveston County. The mercury dipped to 25 degrees in Galveston and 20 degrees in League City, certainly giving the area a hard freeze and the coldest temperatures in Galveston since a 25-degree low on Feb. 2, 2011.
While the 2011 freeze brought a few reports of frozen pipes, the number was far less than with this freeze despite the fact that the 2011 cold spell had four consecutive mornings with freezing low temperatures in Galveston as opposed to three with our current cold spell. So, the question is why was this freeze so much more destructive both to pipes and vegetation?
The answer lies in the duration of freezing temperatures. In 2011, the temperatures climbed above freezing each day during the event. Our latest freeze resulted in more than 21 consecutive hours where the temperature stayed below freezing in Galveston and over 24 consecutive hours on the mainland.
This gave pipes plenty of time to freeze and no real opportunity to thaw. Usually the duration of freezing conditions is as, if not more, important than how low the temperature actually dips.
Meanwhile, looking ahead, the good news is that both the major intermediate forecast models are keeping freezing temperatures away through the end of the month and into the beginning of February. Currently, an upper-level trough and a coastal surface trough are bringing showers to Southeast Texas and over the Gulf of Mexico.
While another cold front is expected to reach the coast by late Sunday or early Monday, with showers and thunderstorms ahead and along the frontal boundary, the air with this next front is Pacific and origin and will only bring us back to normal conditions. And, the Climate Prediction Center is projecting normal to above normal temperatures and wetter than normal weather through early February.
I do not think that anyone will miss our recent cold spells, which have temperatures in League City running 8.2 degrees below normal for the month and 7.5 degrees below normal in Galveston.