Get ready for warmth, wetness in Austin this MLK holiday weekend


Highlights

Thursday saw record high temperatures at Camp Mabry and at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

Meteorologists announced an end to La Niña in February, which would mean a return to normal weather patterns.

Austin will cap a streak of springlike days with a batch of showers during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend that could produce more than 2 inches of rain by Monday night.

The past seven days have seen Austin temperatures climb more than 60 degrees from a low of 19 at Camp Mabry on Saturday to a high of 80 on Wednesday, the warmest day of 2017 so far.

The warming trend continued Thursday, when the temperature hit 79 at Camp Mabry in Central Austin around 3 p.m., surpassing the previous record of 78 set for the date in 2000, according to the National Weather Service.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport also set a new heat record, recording 81 degrees Thursday afternoon. The previous record of 80 degrees was also set in 2000.

To put that in perspective, though, weather service meteorologist Brett Williams said Thursday’s records are unusually low, as January temperature benchmarks go.

The unusually warm weather is partly because of the La Niña weather pattern in the equatorial Pacific. The cooler-than-normal surface temperatures of a La Niña tend to push storms north of Texas. But on Thursday, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center announced that it expects the La Niña pattern to dissipate in February — which would mean that one of the major influences on Central Texas weather will diminish, and the weather will start returning to normal patterns.

The weekend highs will continue to be at least 10 degrees above normal. Peak daytime temperatures should be in the mid-70s on Saturday, in the lower to mid-70s on Sunday and likely still top 70 on Monday, thanks in part to southeasterly winds that continue to bring warm air from the Gulf of Mexico.

Even in that warmth, umbrellas might be advisable. Forecast models show a low pressure system likely to move over Northeast Texas and Oklahoma this weekend, coupled with a stalled front now stretching across North Texas.

Scattered showers might drop a few tenths of an inch of rain on a few spots Saturday, but, by Sunday night, widespread showers will probably drop 1 to 2 inches of rain over the region, according to the weather service. The chances of a particular spot getting wet Sunday night is 60 percent, according to the weather service, which is forecasting similar chances on Monday.

A few spots could see even heavier rainfall. Lightning is also possible Sunday night and the early hours of Monday, Williams said.

This weekend’s rain, although looking far from catastrophic, would nearly match the normal total January rainfall amount of 2.2 inches. So far, Austin has seen less than a half-inch of rain this month at each of its main weather stations at Mabry and the airport.



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