Southeast Texas could be in line for some heavy rains in the next several days, thanks to a tropical disturbance now heading for the Gulf of Mexico. While the National Hurricane Center only gives the disturbance a 20% chance of becoming a cyclone over the next five days, it's movement into the southwestern Gulf over the weekend is predicted to bring at least 2 to 4 inches of rain to the greater Houston area by Sunday and into early next week. Some isolated areas could see as much as 6 to 8 inches.
The extent of any storms and exact amounts and locations of rainfall are not yet known, but Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon says the rain is a good thing for parched areas of the state. "It would actually put us back on schedule for rainfall, since we had a bit of a dry May," says Nielsen-Gammon. "As long as we get some decent rain--enough to soak into the ground--that will not only cut down on the need for watering, it will cut down on the fire danger, and it will also reduce temperatures because all of that moisture in the ground will prevent the ground from baking."
The abnormally dry weather that began in May and continued into early June has left much of Southeast Texas 2-3 inches short of normal rainfall levels for this time of the year, so a drenching could do us some good. But that leads to other concerns. "There may be some places that unfortunately get stuck under some thunderstorms for a while, so we'll have to watch out for that," says Nielsen-Gammon. "And of course you can switch from drought to flood in a hurry in Texas."
Other parts of Texas that have slipped into drought conditions in recent months are also in line for some rain this weekend, as the remains of what was Hurricane Bud in the Pacific will move into parts of West Texas and the Panhandle. "So we're going to be getting some nice rains from both oceans in the next few days, if things work out as forecasted," says Nielsen-Gammon.