Before you start pulling out your sweaters, when I say "cooler," I mean "not quite as unbearable but basically still brutal." Fact is, a trough of low pressure moved through the area and that should lead to slightly milder temps and drier weather as we move into the weekend. There is still a chance of a shower today, but Saturday and Sunday look dry, with highs in the low to mid 90s and lows near 70. As Eric Berger with the Chron pointed out in his daily weather roundup, we have not had a low temperature below 72 in August in five years. And it was a downright comfortable evening earlier this week when raining.
But all that could change come Monday or Tuesday thanks to the presence of a tropical disturbance currently situated just west of the Yucatan Peninsula in the southern Gulf of Mexico. This storm has been working its way west the past few days out of the Caribbean and is still a mess. As a result, the computer models are having a very difficult time figuring out what it is going to do. At this point, there appear to be a handful of scenarios.
The storm, intact, moves into the Bay of Campeche, where the water is warm, the wind sheer is low and steering currents are minimal. It could conceivably meander there for a few days, which would give it time to strengthen, perhaps even into a hurricane.
The storm dissipates and brings some much-needed rains to the Texas coastline and portions of Mexico.
In the middle, there are a number of possibilities, including a fast northern track with a landfall in eastern Louisiana to around the Florida panhandle as a depression or maybe tropical storm, a more westerly track into northern Mexico or southern Texas, or even a split of the current storm into two separate entities with two different tracks.
The end result of all these possibilities is an extremely unclear forecast. The National Hurricane Center is giving it a 60 percent chance of becoming a tropical storm, and noted hurricane expert Dr. Jeff Masters at Weather Underground is putting the odds more at 70 to 80 percent.
At this point, no one is predicting a massive hurricane spinning up in the southern Gulf. It would likely not have enough time over water for that to happen. But if it does take a westerly track towards Mexico, it might make it to hurricane strength. If the trough of low pressure responsible for bringing us this rain and "cooler" weather is able to pick the storm up, chances are it won't surpass tropical storm strength.
In the latter scenario, however, the upper Texas coast is at risk of a strike from a tropical storm as early as Sunday evening, so the Gulf will be worth watching this weekend.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.