After a chilly January, which brought snow, sleet and freezing rain to the County as well as 10 days with freezing temperatures in League City and 5 days in Galveston, February has been a welcome change of pace. With temperatures for the month now running 7.6° above normal in Galveston and 7.8° above normal in League City, February, 2018 is set to go into the record books as the 3rd warmest February in 144 years of observations.
The good news, if you like mild weather, is that the same general pattern we have seen in February is likely to continue for another week or two, if not longer. Currently, the intermediate range models are suggesting periods of clouds and sun, with periodic rain chances as weak cold fronts bring brief spells of cooler (but not colder) weather.
For the shorter range, a weak cold front will move into the coastal region of Texas late tonight into Thursday, bringing a chance of showers or isolated thunderstorms and somewhat cooler weather. For those of you used to this pattern, we should see mild weather return for the weekend and then have another modest cool-down by the middle of next week as the next cold front moves in the area.
As far as precipitation goes, the past couple of weeks have seen a drier trend near the coast with wetter conditions over the northern and central parts of the County. Since February 15, League City has received 1.79 inches of rain, while Galveston has seen only 0.22 inch over the same time span. While this may suit the Island tourist industry, it is beginning to worry some of the local gardeners as the weekly precipitation outlook shows most rain concentrating north and east of the County.
As for March in general, we usually see a marked trend towards spring-like conditions during the month with average near shore Gulf water temperatures rising from the low 60's on March 1 to the upper-60's by the end of the month. Since we are currently running 2-3 degrees above normal, we may see 70° temperatures by the beginning of April. The advent of spring is also reflected in average daily temperatures which usually increase by 6° from March 1 to March 31.
In other words, spring is in the air, even if astronomical spring is still three weeks away.