Arctic Update: Now predicting Houston's 3rd coldest Christmas with a small chance for snow

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Monday, December 19, 2022
Houston's 3rd coldest Christmas brings small chance for snow
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Our confidence is growing that an arctic blast will send temps tumbling Christmas weekend, and there's still a small but legit chance for snow.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- An arctic cold front will blast through Texas just before Christmas weekend, and yes, there's still a small chance for snow in Southeast Texas.

Siberian air is now moving into Alaska and Canada, and that's the cold air expected to plunge south into Texas next week.

ABC13 Chief Meteorologist Travis Herzog says we have high confidence this arctic air will blast through Houston on Thursday, Dec. 22 with a howling north wind gust over 40 mph and temperatures plunging below freezing by the evening.

A large dome of high pressure in the upper atmosphere known as a blocking high has developed south of Alaska, forcing that bitter, cold air from Siberia to travel across the pole and into Canada. It's the same type of pattern that developed in December 1983, which brought Houston's coldest Christmas temperatures with a low of 11 and a high of 28.

We are currently predicting the low this Christmas to drop to 25-degrees, which would rank as the third coldest Christmas in Houston's recorded history.

Herzog says the coldest morning will likely end up being Friday, Dec. 23, and it now looks more than likely that temperatures will dip into the teens and low 20s, which is pipe-bursting, hard-freeze territory. At this time we predict a low of 19-degrees for Houston with a wind chill in the single digits.

While there are similarities to this pattern and the one that brought us the winter storm in February 2021, we don't see the same type of Pacific disturbance coming over the cold air to generate the amount of frozen precipitation observed nearly two years ago. There is, however, evidence that a weaker disturbance will pass through the cold air a couple of days after the front arrives, and it may have just enough moisture to generate some sleet or snow over Christmas weekend. Because the moisture would need to come from the Gulf of Mexico, this is a setup somewhat like the one that brought us the snow on Christmas Eve in 2004. During that event, Houston and communities to the north got little to no snow while up to a foot of the white stuff fell across the coastal counties!

Herzog currently gives it a 20% chance some snow could reach the ground here in Southeast Texas on Christmas weekend.

In the days ahead, ABC13 will continue to keep you updated on our expectations for this Christmas cold snap, so stay tuned!

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