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Special Weather Update
by Jim O'Donnel
Wednesday, February 09, 2011

This is my Wednesday morning update on the latest Arctic cold outbreak affecting the Houston/Galveston area.

...Vigorous Arctic cold front is now through Houston and has just arrived on Galveston Island.  Temperatures are plummeting quickly and will fall to at or below freezing within 1 to 2 hours of frontal passage causing rain to change to freezing rain possibly mixed with some sleet resulting in hazardous driving conditions...

...A Winter Weather Advisory for the central and northern counties of Southeast Texas until 6:00 p.m. CST and now includes the city of Houston...

The National Weather Service Houston/Galveston Office in League City has issued a Winter Weather Advisory until 6:00 p.m. CST Wednesday for the central and northern counties of Southeast Texas.

Counties affected are:   Austin ... Brazoria ... Brazos ... Burleson ... Colorado ... Fort Bend ... Grimes ... Harris ... Houston ... Jackson ... Liberty ... Madison ... Matagorda ... Montgomery ... Polk ...San Jacinto ... Trinity ... Walker ... Waller ... Washington .... and Wharton.

At this time, Galveston and Chambers Counties are not covered by any winter weather advisories, watches or warnings.

A vigorous Arctic cold front is sweeping southward through Southeast Texas.  At 11:25 a.m. the cold front was located along a line from Port Arthur to Jamaica Beach to Freeport.  It is expected to reach Downtown Galveston within the next few minutes.  An abrupt wind shift to North with a rapid increase in speed to 25 to 35 mph with higher gusts can be expected.

Temperatures are dropping quickly behind the cold front and are already down to 28 degrees with freezing rain at Huntsville, 32 degrees with rain at Sugar Land, 33 degrees at Tomball and 34 degrees at Wharton.  Most of Houston is still in the lower to mid 40's but the thermometer is dropping rapidly across the city.  This means that the widespread rain and drizzle may change to freezing rain or freezing drizzle within the next hour or two as the temperature drops to at or below freezing.  This will result in hazardous driving conditions developing quickly, especially on elevated surfaces such as bridges and overpasses.   

Although Galveston County and Chambers County were left out of the Winter Weather Advisory, all precautions should be taken for the possibility of ice forming on roadways later this afternoon especially over inland portions of these counties.

A hard freeze is expected inland tonight and again Thursday night so proper precautions should be taken for pipes, plants and pets.  The immediate coast is expected to have a light freeze.

Further north, a winter storm with heavy snow is sweeping across north Texas northward and eastward into Oklahoma, Arkansas, northern Louisiana, Tennessee and Mississippi.  The attached map shows temperatures (red lines) in degrees F at 11:00 a.m. this morning.

Jim O'Donnel

Remembering Jim Guidry

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