Wednesday, January 5, 2011

More on the Upcoming Cold Blast

At 3pm CST this afternoon, the temperature here at my home near Kyle, TX was 75 degrees.  At the same time one week from today, the temperature is likely to be about 40 degrees colder (yes, 35 degrees at 3 o'clock in the afternoon)!  That may not seem like a big deal to many of you in the Northern U.S., the Midwest or New England, but here in Texas, that's pretty significant.

The computer forecast models continue to show cold air arriving here in central & south Texas during the day Monday, with the really cold, arctic plunge to begin late Monday or early on Tuesday.  Below are the latest surface forecast maps from the HPC, for the period in question:

Surface forecast map valid 6am CST Sunday, 1-9-11

Surface forecast map valid 6am CST Monday, 1-10-11

Surface forecast map valid 6am CST Tuesday, 1-11-11

Surface forecast map valid 6am CST Wednesday, 1-12-11

I want to clarify one thing, particularly for readers here in Texas.  The situation that looks to be unfolding for next week is not so much one where record cold temperatures are going to be set day after day, but more so a situation where it will just be quite cold (especially for this area) over a much longer stretch of days than normal.  Here in Texas, we're use to it cooling down for a day or two in January, but it usually warms right back up.  The situation for next week looks like we'll be in for a much longer period of colder weather (number of days in a row) than usual, and that is what is likely to be significant to most folks.

I piqued my own curiosity yesterday, when considering the likelihood that we are in for several consecutive days of 30 degree temperatures during the daytime hours next week.  So, off to the record books I went (thanks again to Patrick Marsh for providing a very handy link).  Using the nearest reporting station, Austin Bergstrom Airport, here is what I found:  Since 1980, the longest consecutive stretch of high temperatures in the 30s (or colder) here in the Austin area was 8 days.  This took place from December 19 through December 26, 1983.  The lowest "high" during that period was 26 degrees, and the highest was 37 degrees.

The next longest stretch was 4 days, which took place from February 1 through 4, 1985.  During that stretch the lowest "high" was 25 degrees, and the highest was 35 degrees.

There have been 2 instances of a 3 day stretch, from February 4-6, 1989 and January 15-17, 2007.  During those periods, the lowest "high" was 26 degrees, and the highest was 36 degrees.

There have been 6 instances of a 2 day stretch of 30 degree afternoon weather.  The oldest was in December of 1983, and the most recent was in early January of 2001.

Based on the computer model guidance continuing to show a massive arctic invasion next week, I'm confident we'll at least see another 3 day stretch in the area (Tuesday through Thursday).  There is some suggestion that a brief "warm-up" might take place on Friday (into the 40s) before dropping back down into the 30s again over the next weekend.  If it weren't for that possible interruption, we might see a 4 day stretch or longer of 30 degree weather during the daytime hours next week.  The jury is still out on exactly how this will unfold, so stay tuned for more updates...

Some of the models today have also started to introduce the possibility of wintry precipitation across portions of Texas toward the end of next week.  I'd like to watch a few more consecutive model runs before taking a hard look at that possibility.  Stay tuned for more on that as well...

Needless to say, it is going to be a very cold and blustery week for much of the nation next week.  Stock up on the chili fixins and the firewood, and get ready to hunker down for some cold January weather!

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