Invasion of arctic air means near-freezing Christmas Eve in Austin


Highlights

According to meteorologists, the jet stream will plunge southward, allowing arctic air to invade Texas.

If you’re staying home in Austin, forecasters anticipate a chilly Christmas Day with a high of 54 degrees.

Austin weather can be notoriously fickle, and Christmas weather in Central Texas is no different.

On Thursday, just four days before Christmas, Austin marked the winter solstice — the astronomical start of winter — with spring-like temperatures as warm as 78 degrees — only 3 degrees shy of the daily heat record.

RELATED: What you should know about the winter solstice

The National Weather Service’s outlook for Friday, meanwhile, calls for a 70 percent chance of rain as a cold front is expected to swing across Central Texas in the afternoon. Storms inspired by the front could produce up to a half-inch of rain in Austin and drop temperatures by double digits.

Friday’s rain should end in Austin that night, forecasters say, but drivers heading to Houston or the Gulf Coast for Christmas should be aware of lingering storms on Saturday.

Then, on a night when Austin temperatures typically range between 41 and 61 degrees, the holiday forecast this year calls for a much deeper, near-freezing chill on Christmas Eve, with the mercury expected to sink to around 34 degrees.

STAY UPDATED: Download the Statesman Weather app in the Apple iTunes and Google Play stores

According to meteorologists, the jet stream — a river of air that tends to keep polar conditions far to the north of Texas — will plunge southward this weekend, allowing bitter arctic air to invade the southern Plains. Prepare for single-digit temperatures if you are planning to visit loved ones in the Northern Plains and the Upper Midwest, from the Dakotas to Minnesota and Wisconsin.

This arctic assault, represented by cold front pushing deep into the heart of Texas on Sunday, won’t encounter much moisture, so Texans ought to enjoy a largely storm-free but frigid Christmas, forecasters say.

Travelers heading north to Dallas should bundle up because temperatures there are expected stay mainly in the 40s. For those heading west toward El Paso, daytime temperatures will only be slightly warmer with highs in the upper 50s, according to the latest weather service forecast.

RELATED: Make Christmas travel through Austin’s airport easier with these tips

If your flying out of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport — which handled more than 1 million passengers in December last year — try to give yourself as much time as possible to get to the airport, officials say. They recommend getting to the terminal about two hours before your flight, especially during the peak hours for departures: 5 to 8 a.m., 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Texas AAA estimates a record 8.7 million Texans will travel during the holiday period of Dec. 23 to Jan. 1. On Thursday, Texas AAA reported that the average gas price statewide was $2.17 a gallon, which was a couple of dimes cheaper than the national average of $2.43 a gallon.

For holiday travelers hitting the road for Texas destinations but worried about highway construction slowing them down, the Texas Department of Transportation’s online tracker at apps.dot.state.tx.us/apps-cq/project_tracker has an interactive map to check the status of current roadwork by highway or county.

If you’re staying home in Austin, forecasters anticipate a Christmas Day no warmer than 54 degrees, which is several degrees cooler than normal.

Weather service historical data show that the teeth-chattering Texas temperatures on Christmas Eve might make Santa’s sleigh ride a little frostier than usual, but it won’t be his worst silent night in Austin.

The coldest Christmas temperature in Austin — as recorded at Camp Mabry, the city’s main weather station — was a nighttime low of 10 degrees in 1983. That day, temperatures never rose above freezing and topped out at 25 degrees.

The hottest Christmas in Austin was in 1955, when it hit 90 degrees – but temperatures still managed to cool down to around 47 that day.

For the record, snow has never been reported in Austin on Christmas Day, except for a trace amount in 1939.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

JUST IN: SWAT team at Pflugerville home Saturday for ‘barricaded subject’
JUST IN: SWAT team at Pflugerville home Saturday for ‘barricaded subject’

A SWAT team has been called to a home in Pflugerville on Saturday morning after receiving reports of a barricaded person inside, Austin police said.  Authorities said U.S. Marshals are at the home, and the person is refusing to come out. Media reports say the home is in the 14500 block of Harris Ridge Boulevard.  Police did not have further...
NYC postal worker arrested after police find 17,000 pieces of undelivered mail
NYC postal worker arrested after police find 17,000 pieces of undelivered mail

A New York City postal worker was arrested Thursday after 17,000 pieces of undelivered mail were found in his car, apartment and locker, authorities said. Aleksey Germash, who has worked for the U.S. Postal Service for more than 16 years, possessed undelivered mail since 2005, WPIX reported. He told investigators he held onto the mail because...
Trump rips New York Times reporter, defends Cohen
Trump rips New York Times reporter, defends Cohen

President Donald Trump came out swinging on Twitter Saturday morning, firing off three tweets attacking The New York Times and reporter Maggie Haberman. A story published Friday in the Times -- written by Haberman, Sharon LaFraniere and Danny Hakim -- suggested that Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen might cooperate with federal...
FORECAST: Showers possible Saturday in Austin, some storms could be severe
FORECAST: Showers possible Saturday in Austin, some storms could be severe

Showers are possible Saturday in Austin and some storms in Central Texas could become severe, producing hail and damaging winds, the National Weather Service said. Meteorologists put rain chances in Austin at 40 percent Saturday in the day and 20 percent at night. Forecasters say some storms stretching from east of Llano to Hallettsville could...
Queen Elizabeth turns 92: 5 fun facts
Queen Elizabeth turns 92: 5 fun facts

Queen Elizabeth II turned 92 on Saturday, and after 65 years on the throne, she holds the distinction of ruling longer than any monarch in the United Kingdom’s history.  The queen actually celebrates two birthdays each year: her actual birthday, which is April 21; and one in June when she hosts a parade -- weather permitting -- called &ldquo...
More Stories