With the first weekend of Mardi Gras looming and Mardi Gras events continuing on through Fat Tuesday, February 13, a number of Galveston County residents have keen interest in what the weather will be over the coming two weeks or so.
Although there is some consensus that the overall weather pattern will be wetter than normal during this time span, there are also differences in the two major forecast models that could make a big difference in how the weather plays out for these events.
Looking primarily at this coming weekend (as that is closer in time and therefore somewhat less speculative for forecasters), there will be a fairly decent chance for rain. Certainly, umbrellas may be less of a fashion accessory and more a necessity for Friday night's umbrella parade in Galveston. Still, some uncertainty prevails about when rain will affect the County this weekend.
Specifically, what we will mostly likely have is increasing moistures and clouds by Thursday as winds veer around to the south and Gulf moisture returns. Meanwhile, a modest cold front is due to reach the coast by Thursday afternoon or early Friday before moving into the Gulf of Mexico. This, combined with an active southern Gulf Stream and warm air overriding the cooler air at the surface, will give us a chance of rain from Friday through Sunday. There are timing differences, however, with one major model calling for precipitation beginning Friday afternoon and evening, with another focusing more on Saturday and Sunday.
Looking further ahead, could another freeze be in the picture, for winter weary residents? It is a little too early to say for sure, but a very strong and cold area of high pressure over eastern Russia and the Bering Straits, will shift west into Alaska and western Canada in a few days.
Historically, if the upper-level winds shift to a pattern that allows frigid air in that region to move south, the result is a major Arctic outbreak for the lower 48 states. Unfortunately, some intermediate forecast models suggest this may be the case, though the Climate Prediction Center is currently showing the main thrust of the cold air settling in over the Upper-Midwest rather than Texas and the southern Plains. Still, this air mass could be the coldest of the winter so far and something to monitor.