weather

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map shows portions of Central Texas have moved from moderate to severe drought.

Recent hot and dry weather has prompted several Central Texas counties to issue burn bans.

Travis, Williamson, Hays and Burnet Counties are all prohibiting outdoor burning.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

A weather pattern that could bring cooler temperatures and more rain to Texas is likely to develop this month or next, according to climate forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“There is increased confidence for a weak-to-moderate El Niño during the Northern Hemisphere fall and winter 2012-13,” NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said. “El Niño conditions are likely to develop during August or September 2012.” In June, NOAA predicted only a 50 percent likelihood that El Niño would return in the second half of the year. El Niño creates unusually warm temperatures in the equatorial Pacific.

NOAA also updated its summer hurricane forecast today, suggesting we may have a “busy second half” of hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin. They expect 12 to 17 tropical storms by November, including five to eight hurricanes, of which two to three could strengthen into major hurricanes. Tropical Storm Ernesto is currently spinning in the Gulf of Mexico and headed to a flood-prone inland area in the Los Tuxtlas region of Mexico, the AP reports. 

As StateImpact Texas points out, Texas needs just the right kind of storms, moist enough to drench the dry zones, but not powerful enough to erode the coastline, which is currently receding at an average rate of six feet per year

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A 40-year old man is now in stable condition after he was stung by bees about 300 times this morning in Pflugerville.

The Texas AgriLife Extension Office says they’re seeing higher populations of most types of insects this year – including aphids, cicadas and bees.

“Since we’ve been having more rain this year, there have been more plants available as a food source and the honey bees have an opportunity to collect nectar so there do tend to me more numbers – I’ve been getting more calls on bees than I have in the past few years," Extension Program Specialist Wizzie Brown says.

U.S. Drought Monitor

As far as the Texas drought goes, no news might be good news.

After steadily improving for months, the U.S. Drought Monitor map shows statewide drought conditions have reached a plateau.

Heavy rains two weeks ago brought more than 10 percent of the state out of any drought. That number remains steady.

U.S. Drought Monitor

Recent rain has lifted much of the Austin area from “severe” to “moderate” drought.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map shows an improvement across almost all of Central Texas. Williamson County went from extreme drought down to severe. And areas around Bastrop have improved to abnormally dry.

In fact, 12 percent of the state – much of Eastern Texas – is now classified as completely out of drought conditions.

Victor Murphy is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. He says it will still be a while before all of Texas sees long-term drought recovery.

National Weather Service

Update (Noon): Via Twitter,  Bastrop Country Emergency Operations reports that FM 969 has been reopened.

Travis County Emergency Services reports that Star Flight helicopter service has been requested to search Eastern Travis and Western Bastrop counties. “Reported houses and vehicles submerged. Unknown if there are any victims,” the group says.

The American Red Cross Central Texas Region says they are dispatching a disaster assessment team “to the neighborhood affected by this morning’s flash flood in Webberville, TX. The team will have supplies, snacks, and water, and will be on scene to assess the needs of affected residents. Additional volunteers are standing by to open a shelter if needed.” 

The flash flood warning for Bastrop and portions of Travis County expired at noon. 

Original Post (11:13 a.m.): Bastrop and East Central Travis County are under a flash flood warning until noon, due to heavy rainfall last night and this morning.

U.S. Drought Monitor

The new U.S. Drought Monitor map shows Central Texas is getting drier. In just a little over a month, parts of Travis and Williamson Counties have moved from “abnormally dry” to “extreme drought.”

It’s been more than six weeks since the Austin area's seen a good rain.

"For the period from May 16 to July 5, a period of almost 7 weeks, the Austin area has seen only 0.44 of an inch," Victor Murphy, National Weather Service Regional Climate Service program manager, writes via email. "This is the driest such period on record there in Austin in over 100 years (since 1911).  Normal for this period should be about six inches.  Thus, Austin has received less than 10 percent of normal rainfall during what should be one of the wettest time of the year." 

Triple Digit Temperatures Descend on Austin

This weekend saw triple digit temperatures arrive in Central Texas.

The National Weather Service predicts temperatures above 100 degrees every day this week. Tuesday should reach a stifling 106 degrees.

Meanwhile, chances of rain are slim and Central Texas remains in a state of moderate drought. Texas farmers and ranchers had hoped for some major rain as a result of Tropical Storm Debby, but the weather pattern has stayed relegated to the eastern Gulf of Mexico. 

U.S. Drought Monitor

The U.S. Drought Monitor released a new map today – and the news is mixed.

For the first time since March of last year, no part of Texas is under the worst stage of drought. But parts of Central Texas are actually drier than they’ve been in the last few months.

The map shows parts of Travis, Williamson, and Milam counties have been elevated from moderate to severe drought.

That’s because June, which is usually the state’s wettest month, has been abnormally dry. In fact, the last five weeks have been the second driest late May to mid-June on record.

facebook.com/US.NationalWeatherService.FortWorth.gov

Powerful thunderstorms ripped through the Dallas-Fort Worth region late yesterday, producing strong winds and baseball-sized hail. Now comes the clean-up – and paying for it.

The Insurance Council of Texas notes the thunderstorm was the second extreme weather event to hit the region in the last six weeks. In April, several tornadoes unexpectedly touched down in the Metroplex area.

The insurance council estimates the cost of insured losses from the tornadoes exceeded $400 million – but adds "losses from last night’s storm could be higher."

White Water Baldy Complex

A little more than nine months after wildfires devastated parts of Central Texas, new fires are spreading through New Mexico, burning over 278,000 acres of forest. Twenty-five states, including Texas, have sent support to help fight the blaze.

April Saginor with the Texas Forest Service says some cities in Texas like San Antonio can afford to send firefighters and aid because the state has fewer fires to battle themselves.

 

“It’s happening, but they’re much smaller than they were last year, and we were able to contain them rather quickly,” she said. “So we’re in good shape right now, but we’re waiting to see what kind of rain we get later this month.”

Image courtesy U.S. Drought Monitor

The worst drought in Texas history isn’t over but it’s not as bad – at least for now.

Most of Central Texas is classified as “abnormally dry.”

The U.S. Drought Monitor released a new drought map today and it shows most of the area is under the least severe stage of drought. The western part of Travis County and much of the hill country is a little bit drier – considered in “moderate” drought.

Photo courtesy Clear Channel Outdoor

The Texas Gulf Coast is preparing for the upcoming hurricane season.

Today emergency and traffic officials tested digital billboards that will provide emergency messages throughout the Houston area.

Drivers saw a message that said, “Emergency Alert: This is only a test.”

KUT News

City Elections Tomorrow

Election Day is tomorrow for the Austin municipal elections. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Fourteen candidates are running for four seats on the Austin City Council, including mayor.

Perhaps the most closely watched aspect of the election is the challenge to Mayor Lee Leffingwell by former council member Brigid Shea. Shea accused Leffingwell earlier this week of violating campaign finance laws, and throughout the campaign, has maintained that Austin is becoming more unaffordable

That's a common refrain among political challengers – that they will protect the citizenry's collective pocketbook better than the last guy.  But in the case of Shea, currently a community strategist and consultant, the arrival of huge companies like Apple and Formula One cast her position in a different light. 

Image courtesy National Weather Service

Update: Austin and Central Texas are now under a severe thunderstorm watch. The region has already had a couple of tornado warnings today around San Antonio. But there's still the chance of damaging storms in Austin through the early part of the evening.

"Right now the Austin area remains under a severe thunderstorm watch until 8 o'clock tonight, which is mainly for the possibility of large hail and damaging winds,” says Bob Rose, chief meteorologist for the Lower Colorado River Authority. “But sometimes you can get tornadoes even under a severe thunderstorm watch as well. So it's not totally out of the question because this is a very dynamic system."

Rose says some parts of Central Texas could get up to six inches of rain by tomorrow.

A flash flood watch is in effect tonight through tomorrow afternoon for much of Central Texas. Heavy rain is expected –  with totals as high as five inches in some areas.

The National Weather Service writes:

Scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms will continue through the overnight hours. Some of these storms could become severe, with large hail and damaging winds. Expect lows to be in the mid-60s to low 70s. Winds will start out at southeast, 10 to 15 mph, but will become east to northeast, at about 5 to 10 mph.

Photo Courtesy of National Weather Service

South-Central Texas Flood Watch

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for South-Central Texas, beginning today and lasting into Tuesday evening.

The flash flood impact should be highest overnight tonight into Tuesday morning. According to the advisory, average rainfall is estimated between one and two inches, with higher totals reaching into three to five inches.

“A flash flood watch is in effect for Monday evening through Tuesday afternoon for the area North and West and I-35 and HWY 90. There is a chance for locally heavy rain and flash flooding Thursday and Friday. Otherwise no hazardous weather is expected at this time.”

The National Weather Services says "strong thunderstorms with locally heavy rain" may hit by Sunday.
Photo courtesy National Weather Service

The weird weather systems that produced hail by the foot in the Texas Panhandle this week is hanging around. And while Austin isn’t expected to bear  the brunt of severe weather, it still could make for a wet weekend.

The National Weather Service writes that a tornado outbreak is likely across the nation’s midsection this weekend. A technical version of its forecast can be found here, but on its Facebook page, NWS writes:

The Storm Prediction Center is forecasting a high risk of severe weather, including strong tornadoes, over Kansas and Oklahoma on Saturday evening into the overnight hours. The overall risk area includes Nebraska, much of Iowa, western Illinois, northwest Missouri, and northern Texas.

Photo courtesy National Weather Service

A freak storm dumped a whopping four feet of hail on part of North Amarillo this week, says the National Weather Service.

KUT News’ StateImpact Texas project noted the strange occurrence, news of which proliferated across Facebook thanks to an incredible photo the National Weather Service office in Amarillo shared: an area firefighter standing next to a makeshift retaining wall filled to the brim with hailstones.

StateImpact Texas writes:

In an interview with MSNBC, Krissy Scotten, a spokeswoman for the National Weather Service in Amarillo, denied that the photo just showed ice on top of rocks, as some skeptics asserted after seeing it. “I can assure you we do not have big rocks like that in West Texas,” she told MSNBC. She said the four feet of ice was caused by a lot of rain and water. “Anytime you have hail accumulate 2 to 4 feet high and get over three inches of rain, no matter how it occurs, it’s pretty incredible,” she told the news site. 

Image courtesy NWS

There’s a chance of severe thunderstorms in the area this afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

Battling it out with high temperatures, storms could bring hail and damaging winds, and the NWS says as much as two inches of rain could fall per hour. Further away from the city, parts of the Austin/San Antonio region could also see golf ball size hail. 

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