The Ice Storm Cometh: With Winter Storm Warning in Effect, Here's What to Expect

Freezing temperatures with sleet and snow across East Texas Tuesday morning.
Freezing temperatures with sleet and snow across East Texas Tuesday morning. Screengrab
The last time we dealt with winter weather, it was almost idyllic. Many of us woke up to a blanket of white on our rooftops and Christmas decorations. It was before the holiday and everyone felt positively giddy. Think of Tuesday as that day's sloppy, drunk cousin still hungover from the winter break and just trying to keep the party going.

The cold front forecast last week moved through Houston in the early morning hours. Since, temperatures have been falling and as of 7:30 a.m., most of the city was at or below freezing. A wintry mix of sleet and freezing rain began falling around dawn and the ground is now wet with melted sleet and some rain.

It's no wonder that much of the Houston area is closed today. The major school districts, colleges and even some museums and local businesses have decided today is not the day to venture forth and that's pretty good advice for everyone.

And while that might seem like an overreaction right now, here's why it isn't: Those temperatures are only going to drop and all that wet stuff on the ground will begin to stick making for some very hazardous conditions.

Back in December, we got mostly snow and the temperature rose enough by late morning to negate any impacts of precipitation on area roadways. This time, the slush of this morning is likely to stay around much of the day as temperatures remain below freezing.

"But what about the snow?" you ask. Well, once the freezing stuff moves through, most of the area has a good chance of some of the white stuff, but it will be intermittent and is unlikely to be what we saw in early December. Still, you have a good opportunity for a little snow throughout the day before it begins clearing out.

By early evening, the precipitation will have vacated the area and we go into the deep freeze with temperatures falling into the mid and low 20s. Anything that is still covered in moisture will freeze up for sure. But, at least you can keep your beer cold by just setting it outside. There's that.

Fortunately, we should be relatively ice free Wednesday morning as much drier air moves in. By lunchtime Wednesday, we should "warm" up to the upper 30s with maybe another round of right at or just below freezing temperatures overnight Wednesday. By Friday, you'll have forgotten this whole messy incident as we could see highs of 70 this weekend. Ah, Texas.

For now, your best bet is to stay inside and watch a boatload of mean open that laptop and start working remotely, young man.
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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