The week that was featured some wildness, interspersed with "chamber of commerce" days. The action peaked Tuesday and Wednesday (January 22 and 23), with 50+ mph Valley winds on both sides of a vigorous cold front and upper level wave - a very rare occurrence overall and especially this early in the calendar year. Scattered, notable power outages and isolated damage events were observed, but fortunately we've heard of no significant casualties or wildfire spread events. After relative calm on Thursday and today (Friday), the pattern "picks up" again, beginning with the first soaking rains in a while for at least the "Lower" and perhaps the "Mid" Valley on Saturday, which will be joined by a stiff wind by afternoon and evening toward the coast and impacting boating/fishing/beach activities. Sunday cleans up nicely, and Monday warms up with a touch of the "Valley Wind Machine" before the next surge of chilly air and "big" winds, especially over the Gulf but also on land, on Tuesday. This will set up another cold morning on the 30th with some potential for a light freeze.
What to Watch For
Periods of light rain late tonight will become steady and locally heavy Saturday, peaking during the afternoon - and through the evening near the coast.
Average rainfall will range from 0.25 to 0.5" across the ranchlands, to 0.75" to 1" in the lower Valley.
Reasonable "high end" rainfall will range from 1 to 2" across the lower and perhaps mid Valley.
Given that most of Deep S. Texas and the RGV are abnormally dry to moderate drought, any rain is good rain. The best chance for removal/improvement of drought/dry conditions will be in the lower and mid Valley.
Northeast winds will increase to 25+ knots over the Gulf south of Mansfield, beginning mid to late afternoon and peaking during the evening Saturday night. Gale force gusts are possible, especially in the waters due east of South Padre.
Seas will become rough and high, reaching at 8 to 10 feet east of South Padre and 7 to 8 feet elsewhere south of Mansfield. Less intense conditions are expected north of Mansfield. Beaufort force 6 and 7 seas are expected, condition 7 due east of South Padre.
Locally heavy rain occurring during the strongest winds/highest seas will reduce visibility to near zero at times, mainly south of Mansfield, through midnight Saturday night
Rip current intensity will become high and dangerous Saturday afternoon and peak Saturday night
Tidal "run up" will be noted Saturday afternoon and evening, but high tide predictions are fortunately on the low side this weekend. At high tide just after sunset Saturday, water will run up higher on the beach and perhaps reach the base of the dunes but no more.
Potential Impacts/Suggested Actions
For a reasonable worse-case scenario, ponding and local "nuisance" flooding of poor drainage locations is possible, mainly from Weslaco to the coast
Motorists should be ready for steady, all-day rain. This will be similar to what was experienced on January 15th in terms of wet ground. See attached graphic for guidance.
Outdoor activity without a tent? Postpone. With a tent? Be sure to block wind from the east and northeast, as winds will pick up from that direction in the afternoon and evening.
There may be a dry and relatively calm window for Laguna Madre fishing Saturday early, but conditions deteriorate quickly thereafter (rain and wind)
Weekend Gulf trips should be postponed for small craft operators. Rain, wind, and waves/seas will combine to make miserable, dangerous conditions, especially south of Mansfield. Laguna fishing Sunday morning is possible, but with care.
Saturday is just a bad beach day, period - peaking in the afternoon and early evening. Swimming is not recommended, and surfing will be made difficult by chop/roughness.
Residual rips are likely Sunday, though intensity will gradually fade as the day wears on.
As mentioned above, the next front arrives with gusto late Monday night (January 28), peaking with backside winds and cooler temperatures Tuesday (January 29). Lowest temperatures arrive Wednesday (January 30) around daybreak. A quick look at each parameter below...look for an update on this event on Monday.
Gulf/Laguna Gale ('Norther)
Behind the sharp 'norther, winds will increase to near 30 knots with frequent gusts 35 to 40 knots (Gale force), mainly during the morning and early afternoon. Seas will build to 10-12+ feet beyond 10 nautical miles out, and 5 to 8 feet near the coast. Boaters should reschedule trips scheduled for Tuesday until Wednesday at the earliest. As we've seen with earlier events this winter, including this past Wednesday, surf will become very rough and confused with high intensity northerly longshore and rip currents near the jetty on Tuesday.
Wildfire Spread/Growth Potential
As of this writing, the atmosphere shows signs of cooling, even above the surface, which will tend to keep temperatures from climbing too high despite full sunshine Tuesday afternoon. This said, the combination of potential relative humidity between 18 and 25 percent with 15 to 20+ mph surface winds and continued "cured" fine fuels and brush brings a threat for rapid wildfire growth and spread. Fire Danger Statements or Red Flag Warnings are possible for parts of the region, favoring locations west of US 77.