Houston is gearing up for a potentially frigid Christmas this year, as a cold front of Arctic air is expected to hit the Houston area on Thursday and last through Christmas Day.
How cold will it get in Houston?
The National Weather Service is forecasting temperatures to dip below 25 degrees beginning Thursday night, and the wind chill factor could make it feel even colder. Meteorologists are predicting Friday to be the coldest day of the freeze, with a low of 13 degrees when considering the wind chill factor and overnight temperatures feeling like 2 degrees before warming slightly to 4 degrees by 9 a.m. Friday.
Here are SE TX forecasts for tonight (Freeze Warning & low temps) & the Sun-Tue outlook. Arctic cold weather will arrive on Thursday (Dec. 22nd) with subfreezing temps likely to develop across all of SE TX that will persist thru at least Christmas. #txwx #houwx #glswx #bcswx pic.twitter.com/grvzzTa73o
— NWS Houston (@NWSHouston) December 17, 2022
Although this winter may bring temperatures similar to the lows experienced during the 2021 winter storm in Houston, local utilities and the state power grid operator have said they are better prepared this winter than they were in 2021.
Is rain or snow in the forecast?
The forecast for Christmas in Houston looks like a mix of rain and cold temperatures. Starting Monday morning, there is a chance of rain and thunderstorms and a 20 percent chance of rain Thursday afternoon and evening.
However, according to meteorologists, any winter precipitation during the Christmas weekend is unlikely. However, some were reporting hail near Katy, TX. The tweet below shows marble size hail coming down their house in Simonton, TX:
— Constable Chad Norvell (@chad_norvell) December 19, 2022
If precipitation occurs when the temperature is at or below freezing, it is possible it will fall as snow, sleet or freezing rain, depending on the exact conditions. The National Weather Service has said there is a chance of snow and/or sleet in the area on December 25th, but it is too early to tell for sure.
Regardless of whether it snows or not, locals should prepare for cold temperatures and wind chills. Temperatures are expected to dip below 25 degrees beginning Thursday night, and the wind chill factor could make it feel even colder. Friday is expected to be the coldest day of the freeze, with a low of 13 degrees when considering the wind chill factor, and overnight temperatures feeling like 2 degrees before warming slightly to 4 degrees by 9 a.m. Friday.
Will the power go out?
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has said that they expect to have enough power to meet demand during the cold snap coming this week. ERCOT has taken steps to weatherize its facilities, and they believe they’ll have more than enough generation necessary to survive the winter without widespread outages. However, not all outages during a winter freeze come from the state’s power grid, and it is possible that some localized outages could occur due to strong winds and icy tree branches.
You can take steps to protect yourself from potential power outages by signing up for free text, email or phone call alerts from CenterPoint Energy. Additionally, the Houston Chronicle runs a Texas Power Outage Tracker, which updates in real-time with information about power outages across Texas counties. Finally, you should ensure your vehicles are filled with gas ahead of Thursday and consider storing extra gas. If the power goes out, your car can help you charge your devices and stay warm.
How can I keep my pipes from freezing?
When temperatures drop to freezing or below, it’s essential to take the necessary steps to ensure that your pipes don’t freeze. The most effective way to prevent pipes from freezing is to insulate them. This can be done by wrapping them in insulation or using foam insulation sleeves. If your pipes are located outdoors, you should also cover them with a tarp or insulating material to keep them from freezing.
You should also open your cabinets and drawers to prevent the cold air from reaching your pipes. This will allow warm air to circulate in and around your pipes, keeping them from freezing. Additionally, it’s essential to keep your thermostat set to the same temperature throughout the day and night to ensure that the temperature stays above freezing.
Finally, you can try turning on the faucets to a slow drip. This will help keep water moving through the pipes, which can help prevent freezing. However, it’s important to note that this isn’t a foolproof method and may not work in all situations.
If you’re going to be away from home for an extended period of time, it’s best to turn off the water and run all of the faucets until there is no water left in the pipes to freeze.
What can I do for outdoor pets and plants during the freeze?
For outdoor pets, the most important thing to do during a freeze is to ensure they have plenty of shelter and warmth. If possible, bring them into the house or garage during the coldest parts of the day. Provide plenty of bedding and ensure they have food and water access. If you cannot bring them inside, ensure they have a warm and dry shelter, such as a dog house or other insulated structure.
Covering plants with a tarp or blanket is essential to protect them from the cold. If you can, bring them inside for the duration of the freeze. If that is not an option, ensure you water the plants well before the freeze, as this will help protect them somewhat. If the plant can handle the cold temperatures, you may be able to get away with not covering it at all.
What happens if the power goes out?
When the power goes out in Houston during a cold front of Arctic air, it can be dangerous. Without the power to run furnaces and heaters, the temperature inside homes and businesses can drop quickly. The National Weather Service (NWS) advises having extra blankets and layers on hand to stay warm. Make sure to check on neighbors and family members who may be particularly vulnerable, such as the elderly or those with small children.
Be extra cautious with fireplaces or portable generators. During the 2021 winter storm in Houston, some Texans died after fires they set to stay warm got out of control. Over 300 people were admitted to Houston-area hospitals with carbon monoxide poisoning due to improper use of these generators.
If possible, try to stay at a hotel or with a friend or family member who still has power. Contact your power company for information about when the power may be restored. If you have to stay in your home, the NWS recommends wearing multiple layers of warm clothing and keep extra blankets for your bed. Make sure to stay hydrated, eat warm foods, and keep moving around to stay warm.
Driving Safely in Cold Weather: Tips for Houston Drivers
Car accidents in Houston caused by cold weather can be especially dangerous. Cold weather can make roads slippery, reducing traction and causing drivers to lose control of their vehicles. Poor visibility due to fog and ice can also contribute to car accidents. Additionally, drivers may become tired more quickly in cold weather, leading to decreased reaction times and impaired judgment.
Houston drivers must take extra precautions when driving in cold weather. Make sure to drive slowly and leave extra space between you and other cars. Also, keep headlights on and use extra caution when turning or changing lanes. Be aware of black ice, which is a thin layer of ice that can be difficult to see. Finally, check your tires and battery before heading out in cold weather to ensure they are in good condition.
Use extreme caution, as car accidents caused by bad weather can hold the driver ultimately responsible.
It is essential to take extra safety precautions when driving in cold weather in Houston. Contact an attorney if you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident due to another driver’s negligence in cold weather. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and receive the compensation you deserve.
As the holidays approach and the temperatures drop, we want to remind you to be extra cautious when traveling. Make sure you take extra precautions to stay safe and warm. Slow down, check your tires, and be sure to wear a warm coat, gloves, and hats if you’re driving. As personal injury lawyers, we know safety’s importance and want everyone to enjoy the holidays free from accidents and injuries.