The National Weather Service has begun to get more specific about what we can probably expect, beginning tomorrow, with the winter storm across the Houston Metro area. Herein, then, a summary:
Recent computer models have suggested the precipitation will arrive earlier on Thursday than previously expected.
As a result forecasters believe light snow flurries may be possible near the coast as early as Thursday during the pre-dawn hours, and across areas near and south of Interstate 10 during the morning.
With that said, the serious stuff — heavier snow or ice — will probably not come until later in the day. Best guess for timing on the more significant wintry precipitation is noon-ish along the coast, mid-afternoon for Harris County, and late afternoon for areas to the north of Harris County.
The time to be most concerned about snow, ice and sleet will be during the late afternoon or early evening — probably near sunset — through early Friday.
At the beginning of the main event forecasters expect to see light snow or sleet (sleet is defined as frozen raindrops that bounce on impact with the ground) near the coast with flurries over more inland areas.
By Thursday night there could be some shift to freezing rain, a very serious threat to road safety, to the southeast of Houston. It’s possible the freezing rain could extend as far west as line from downtown Houston to Matagorda.
Needless to say, in these areas, if you can stay off the roads Thursday after dark it would be advisable to do so given the current forecast.
Across Houston there could be a mix of freezing rain, sleet and snow, with snow most likely north and west of the city.
About 1 to 3 inches of snow and sleet are expected across much of Houston. Some isolated areas — perhaps within the Piney Woods — could see as much as four inches of accumulation.
To the east of Houston one-tenth to one-quarter of an inch of ice is possible.
As I mentioned this morning, this is an uncommon storm for southeast Texas because it will have been preceded by two days of near- or sub-freezing temperatures, so there is very little latent heat on roads or bridges.
This means, beginning Thursday around sunset, there is a very real threat of dangerous road conditions. Please do take care.
I’ll have a full update in the morning, and join me for a live chat at noon, during which myself and ImpactWeather meteorologist Mark Mathiesen will answer questions about the storm.