As we thought, the forecast models, using the data from the National Hurricane Center reconnaissance aircraft came into fairly good agreement last night on the track of Tropical Storm Don and, unfortunately, it doesn't bode well for rain chances in the Houston area.
Don is tracking to the west-northwest and moving along at a pretty good clip south of a large ridge of high pressure. It's a very small storm, which makes it much more vulnerable to wind shear and more difficult to predict in terms of how big it will get. None of the intensity models forecast Don will be a hurricane before making landfall somewhere along the Texas coast.
That's really good news for a drought-stricken state like ours. A good-sized tropical storm without the damaging winds or storm surge of a hurricane could help dramatically reduce the drought problem, as Dr. Jeff Masters at Weather Underground points out. A hurricane, on the other hand, could simply add to the millions of dollars in weather-related losses, which no one wants.
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For Houston, we sit outside the dreaded "cone of uncertainty" and it appears we will probably stay that way. While changes in forecast track have trended slightly northward over the last 12 hours, they haven't moved enough to suggest a landfall near enough to Houston to feel the real effects of the storm.
That doesn't mean we won't get some rain, however. Rainfall predictions for Friday night (estimated landfall of the storm is late Friday or early Saturday) and into Saturday are up around 50 percent. With the increased tropical moisture in the atmosphere, we should definitely see some rain. How much is anyone's guess at this point.
Chances are, you'll still need to water your lawn next week.