The Woodlands storm weather avoidance being monitored

By: J. Werner
| Published 08/22/2014


THE WOODLANDS, Texas -- The Woodlands is embarking on a dry spell for the next five days, with only a 20 percent chance of rain next Wednesday. If recent weather patterns are any indication, the likelihood exists that the dry spell will last longer.

Although two days in a row residents spent their evenings picking up tree debris in their yards after severe thunderstorms passed through The Woodlands, the storms were brief and less intense than the surrounding areas. This was non-typical of the last few storms that have moved through Montgomery County.

Woodlands Online tracks inclement weather in order to notify residents in advance. Over the course of the summer, many of the storms that have passed through the county have veered around The Woodlands. A storm August 10, dissipated as it approached The Woodlands from the south, then reformed on the north side of town. A previous storm on July 31, moving southeast, also dispersed, blanketing Spring and Tomball with rain but leaving The Woodlands high and dry. Although the storms of August 19 and 20, deposited rain in The Woodlands, with high winds, it was brief (approximately 10 minutes), compared with the intensity of the storm that moved north through Spring August 19. And like the previous storms, it intensified after it passed over The Woodlands at FM 1488, growing in strength as it moved north over Lake Conroe.

Cities have been found to be as much as 10 degrees Celsius warmer than the surrounding rural areas, often creating rainfall as the warmer air rises producing condensation when reaching cooler temperatures in the upper atmosphere. Rapid growth and urbanization of cities can develop an urban heat island (UHI) that have been shown to enhance thunderstorms. (See American Meteorological Society online journals at link provided.) However, that does not appear to be the case in The Woodlands, possibly because the urban development is not yet, substantial enough. In fact, quite the contrary. In tracking the recent storms moving through Montgomery County, regardless of the direction the storms traveled, the precipitation appears to ‘wither’ as it approaches The Woodlands.

As far back as 2006, the impact of urban development on weather could have just the opposite effect, as cited by C.G. Collier in the the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society. Collier cites a couple of variables as contributors to the suppression of precipitation… aerosols/pollutants, and surface heterogeneity (the nonuniformity in the surface due to urban development). Collier maintains that it’s imperative that urban effects on the weather are included in planning the environment.

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