Milder fall weather nears, bitter cold, too

HARLINGEN — For those of us who won’t be sorry to see the end of 2020, Tuesday is one of the milestones in putting the year behind us.

Tuesday marks the autumnal equinox, the changing of the seasons, and this year we may enjoy a more traditional weather experience with conditions decidedly fall-like.

“What you felt out there the last couple of days, for example, is very October-like,” Barry Goldsmith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Brownsville, said Monday. “Temperatures in the 80s, humidity kind of low, the mornings refreshing. That’s a very nice sign.”

Goldsmith said the long-term forecast indicates this is the kind of weather pattern which could prevail.

“The new forecast just came out last week and it appears that we’re going to see this kind of a pattern, we think, where it’ll be warm to hot occasionally, fairly dry with lower humidity, a good deal of sunshine and the temperature forecast right now is about 55 percent probability of being above the long-term average for the autumn period,” he said.

Rainfall is forecast to be close to 50 percent probability to normal which actually translates to a good chance of the next three months being drier than usual.

It also looks like we’re entering a La Nina period, the nickname for a periodic eruption of a pool of colder water in the Pacific Ocean that has extensive effects on weather across the planet.

“One thing to be careful with La Ninas is you can get air that can drain south from western Canada and even toward the pole, particularly in November and December,” Goldsmith said. “So while the overall period appears to be warm and dry, there could be a pretty good cold front or two that comes through later in the fall as we get toward the end of fall toward the winter period in December.”

“Now, how cold it gets, I have no idea,” he added. “But we’ve seen this before during recent La Ninas, and we’ve had freezes or light ice events and most of them were in January, but the year we had the snow in early December, that was actually a moderate La Nina.”

Goldsmith said the conditions expected over the next few months mean these cold fronts could be stronger than usual.

“When I mean cold, it’s not like 55 to 60 degrees by day and 40 in the morning,” he said. “But like 40s in the daytime and upper 20s to lower 30s by morning. That would be the potential for perhaps as early as November and more likely in December.”

But as the climate predictions begin to pile up, Goldsmith warned there is the possibility of entering yet another drought period, a weather pattern to which Valley residents are quite accustomed.

“Maybe even by late November, believe it or not,” he said. “Even though we had a nice, decent, wet September, and we have had that rain in July, it wouldn’t take much as you know down here in the Valley with warm and dry weather to really evaporate moisture from the ground, and turn wet into dry, and green into brown.”