The National Weather Service is calling the rainy weather conditions over the next three days the “Squeeze Play,” but, the meteorologists warn that it should be taken far more seriously than any Texas Major League Baseball team’s World Series hopes.
It’s a combination of of three factors that all appear to converge upon Central Texas, with the potential of delivering up to 7 inches of rain across the region, with pockets of precipitation totals as high as 10 inches.
“It’s going to be a good rain,” said meteorologist Troy Kimmel. “We never make promises in this business, but I will come as close to saying that yes, it will be a beneficial rain. What we hope is that we don’t get it all at once.”
Rainfall chances will increase dramatically Thursday, and the greatest chances of heavy rains will be from Friday morning through Saturday evening, the weather service said.
Even after a torrential spring, the lack of rain this summer and early fall has pushed most of Texas right back into a drought. As of last week, the U.S. Drought Monitor categorized slivers of Travis and Williamson counties — as well as virtually all of Bastrop County — as in “exceptional drought,” the most extreme rating.
While the water will be a welcome sight, meteorologists would prefer a steady soaking compared to the rapid amount of rain expected over the next three to four days.
The ground is so dry that heavy rain could create flash floods. The Weather Service has predicted a moderate to high risk of flash flooding through Saturday night.
Kimmel said he hopes that rates of rainfall won’t top more ½ inch an hour. “It just seems like the atmosphere is having wild mood swings,” Kimmel said. “We are damn near in drought or flood and nothing in between.”
Kimmel also warned of danger to areas in Bastrop County affected by the still active Hidden Pines fire and the 2011 Labor Day fire.
A low pressure system will drift into northwest Texas, funnelling moisture towards Central Texas. It will draw damp air from the Gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Patricia, which is expected to be upgraded to a hurricane on Thursday as it traverses the Pacific coast of Mexico, will throw bands of rain towards us from the southwest.
Is this the first warning shot of El Niño? Ever the meteorologist, Kimmel said “maybe.”
“I’m reluctant to say it is, but it probably is,” Kimmel said. “I would certainly say this is a change in a pattern. It walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like one, so maybe it’s a duck.”