The Cooling Down of Houston, Relatively Speaking

Congratulations! If you lived in Houston for the last three or four months, you managed to survive the hottest summer in recorded history. Whenever someone complains about a 98-degree August afternoon in future summers, you will be able to say, "That's nothing" and be completely accurate.

This summer, as if you didn't know, has been brutally hot and exceedingly dry. That day of "rain" we got last weekend added one inch to our rainfall total for the year to just under 12 inches. By comparison, the driest year on record through the same date was 1917 at just over 15 inches. In other words, we obliterated that record. We still have time to keep from breaking the record for the year, which is 17.66 inches, but I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you.

Now, enough with the doom and gloom; summer is coming to an end and I'm not just talking about the first official day of fall, which is Friday. As the days get shorter, we inevitably will begin to see a cooling trend that will take us into winter. But how soon will that be and just how cool will it get?

With La Niña conditions expected to persist through winter, we will have a slightly warmer and slightly drier winter based on previous years with similar conditions. Of course, we had 20-degree days this past winter and we had a La Niña in effect then as well. Even so, we managed to be, on average, about a half a degree warmer than average last winter and with lower precipitation.

There are good indications we'll get a cool front in the next couple of days that will bring our temperatures down to around 90 and into the 60s for lows. After that, it will warm up again and then, eventually, another cool front will pass through. This dance will continue probably into November, when we'll likely get our first blast of "cold" air that will keep us under 90 most of the rest of the winter.

For now, we should expect temperatures to be three to five degrees warmer than average through the first couple weeks of October. I wouldn't be surprised to see even some mid-90s on a day or two, but the trend will be heading in the other direction. Average high temperatures normally begin falling into the low 80s, a welcome change, by mid-October. It might take a little longer for us this year, but, thankfully, the summer is officially coming to a close and with it the end to our brutal heat as well as hurricane threats to the Texas coast.

Now, when we might see an end to our drought conditions is anybody's guess.

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