Weather

It's the Most Wonderful, Bitterly Cold Time of the Year...Apparently: Four Things to Know

Remember this? It's about to get this cold, but not this icy.
Remember this? It's about to get this cold, but not this icy. Photo by Jack Gorman
Welcome to Texas where predicting the weather is like shooting craps. You roll the dice and just hope it doesn't come up sevens. Maybe you go on a hot streak, but eventually, Mother Nature is gonna get you and she might decide to kneecap you in the parking lot while she's at it.

It's been a downright balmy December so far. We've heard all the "it doesn't feel like Christmas" whines from around the city. Well, apparently the weather gods have heard your moaning and they are about to have the last laugh.

A polar vortex is dropping down into the midwest this week sending Arctic air all the way to the Gulf Coast. There is a chance that every state (including Hawaii) could be below freezing later this week. There will be plenty of white Christmases to go around this year. Here's four things to know.

Get ready for Thursday.

Thursday may see a high of 70 and a low in the 20s...seriously. A front will sweep through the area in the late afternoon and temperatures behind it will drop like a rock. Overnight lows into Friday morning are expected to reach the teens for much of the region meaning a serious hard freeze the likes of which we haven't seen since that time two years ago when everyone's power went out and we all made food over open flames and tried not to freeze to death or die from carbon monoxide poisoning. Yeah, fun.

The freeze won't last as long as the last time.

We're not talking about three-plus days below freezing, but expect at least 36 hours below 32 degrees. That's more than enough to kill off all your plants that just came back to life last summer. It MIGHT (strong emphasis) creep just above freezing on Friday, but don't expect it and we'll see temperatures back in the low to mid 20s Friday night. It will get into the 40s on Christmas Eve (bikini weather!), however, allowing us to thaw out a bit with temperatures only dipping to around the freeze line Saturday night.

It's going to be really windy but not rainy.

If you are thinking, "Hey, at least it will be a white Christmas," think again. This will be a dry front so no snow, but also no ice. Roads should be passable and we should not need to worry about a completely shut down city, generally speaking. But, the wind is going to gust to near 40 mph late Thursday and into Friday morning. That doesn't sound like a lot when you're used to hurricanes (don't forget, that season is just six months away!), but when you combine the temperatures, it will put wind chill in the single digits both Thursday and Friday night. Yikes.

ERCOT says it's ready.

The state swears the "hardening" it did to protect the power grid will do its job and we will all be cozy in our heated homes, but that's still best case scenario. Be prepared for power outages — particularly those caused by downed power lines from wind or debris — and frozen (even broken) water pipes. Hopefully, whatever issues we have, they will be short lived and not the unmitigated disaster of 2021, but, well, most of the same people are in charge, so who knows?
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke