Texas Prepares for Arctic Conquest: Ice/Travel Impacts Begin Tomorrow
The much-discussed Arctic cold front has begun pushing south into the Texas Panhandle. The front will make steady southward progress across much of Texas by this evening. It will push through the southern third of Texas early Sunday. Those in the Rio Grande Valley may postpone its final arrival by a day or two, if it stops. Likewise, areas farther west in Texas and the Borderland will remain warm for a few days thanks to the Davis and Guadalupe Mountains shifting the Arctic air mass eastward.
Once temperatures drop below freezing in the northern half of Texas this afternoon or this evening, they won’t rise above freezing until Tuesday or Wednesday. Low temperatures in the northern two-thirds of Texas will range from below zero to the teens, especially Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. The southern third of Texas will drop below freezing at least on those nights. It will be very cold by Texas standards. We’ll all rise above freezing Wednesday afternoon as we begin to warm up, though another strong cold front will arrive on Thursday. Be wary of frozen pipes, and take appropriate precautions for your furry family members. Yes, this includes your uncle who refuses to wax his back.
Freezing drizzle, freezing rain, sleet, and snow
Winter precipitation chances have increased in the Hill Country, Central Texas, North Texas, Northeast Texas, the Arc-La-Tex area, East Texas, the Brazos Valley, and even parts of Southeast and South Texas. The presence of a lot of dry air in the lower levels of the atmosphere makes it difficult to determine when this event will start. Right now, we may have pockets of freezing drizzle, light freezing rain, or even light snow showers developing by mid-afternoon Sunday in the areas mentioned above. This activity may be isolated initially before becoming more widespread Sunday evening into Monday afternoon. The presence of a warm layer of air in the middle levels of the atmosphere is the reason why snow simply does not fall. It will be cold enough in all weather levels for snow to fall in Northeast Texas on Monday.
The forecast for ice accumulations is on the light side. However, impacts are likely to impact travel even in areas that only see intermittent freezing drizzle. This will be due to very cold temperatures. As February 2021 showed, a very light freezing drizzle or freezing rain in a very cold environment can cause roads to turn into slick agony without much notice. Consider this possibility as soon as Sunday afternoon, but more likely Sunday evening through Monday afternoon. When mid-level temperatures are cooler in Northeast Texas, one-half to three inches of snow will be possible. This may also mix with freezing rain and sleet, causing some ice to accumulate.
For most of the locations listed above, there will not be enough ice accumulation to cause a damaging ice storm to trees or infrastructure. The impacts will mainly be travel-related. Of course, it will be very cold throughout Texas, which will be the most widespread weather threat.
When it ends?
While temperatures will remain below freezing through Tuesday or Wednesday, a lift (wind) and some sunshine should help improve most of the deteriorating road conditions as we enter the second half of Monday or Tuesday.
This is still a situation where adjustments to the forecast may be needed later today or tonight. We will do our best to keep you updated. You can check real-time Texas road conditions on the TxDOT website at DriveTexas.org
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