Not all sequels are terrible. Many believe Godfather II was the best of that series and I am much more fond of Empire Strikes Back than I am of Star Wars (episode IV as it were). When it comes to the sequel to the winter weather we experienced less than a week ago, it is beginning to look like what we will see come Tuesday could be worse than the original.
A Winter Storm Watch was issued on Sunday in anticipation of what might be a significant winter event -- at least what constitutes one here in southeast Texas. The one key difference is going to be the temperature. Not only is it expected to be below freezing for longer than last week's event, but it should be a few degrees colder allowing for a greater chance that whatever precipitation falls from the sky remains for at least a few hours.
Current forecasts call for more ice than snow the closer you get to the coast with accumulations of ice as much as .05 inches north of the city to .15 inches along the coastline. The inverse is true for snow with a possibility of as much as 2 inches north of the city and only a trace expected along the coast.
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For those of us in the heart of the city, we could see a lot of both -- well, a lot for Houston -- with as much of an inch of both. The big question on the forecast now is when all this will happen.
Last week, the precipitation and frozen temperatures began in the late night hours of Wednesday into early Thursday morning. As a result, most school districts canceled or significantly delayed classes, companies called off or delayed work. This week, temperatures should begin falling early in the morning on Tuesday and conditions should deteriorate throughout the afternoon and into rush hour. Precipitation will fall most of the day Tuesday -- rain first followed by sleet or freezing rain and then, possibly, snow. Making things more complicated, it is likely that any ice that accumulates on bridges and overpasses will remain on roadways through the morning hours on Wednesday thanks to temperatures that will fall into the 20s overnight Wednesday. Snowpocalypse Part Two could actually impact two rush hours. If you recall what it was like on Thursday, imagine that expanded by a day. Add to that the fact that this will happen mid week, not at the end of the week when people were more apt to just take a long weekend. It could be ugly come Wednesday morning.
As for the snow, Eric Berger at the Chron has an excellent explanation of the possibilities of the white, fluffy stuff. For snow to fall, freezing temperatures must exist both at ground level and throughout the atmosphere. This should happen later in the day Tuesday for the entire area. The question will be if the upper level disturbance that will cause our precipitation will still be over us at that time. As with most things, timing is critical.
Fortunately, temperatures should rebound quickly on Wednesday getting into the mid 40s and we won't see another freeze for at least a little while. Long-range forecasts show a possibility of another freeze the first week of February, but it is tough to predict that far out. By the end of this week anyway, it will be back in the 70s.