Summertime Spotty Precipitation: Where Does it Come From?

Summer weather in Texas consists of three things normally: hot temperatures, high humidity values, and scattered pop-up showers. We know where the heat and humidity comes from, as the Brazos Valley actually isn’t too far away from the coast, but why do we have a 20% chance of scattered showers every day? The answer is simple: the sea breeze.

During the day, both the continents and the oceans around the world heat up thanks to the heat of the sun. Water heats up faster than land, which also means that the air above both land and water heat up at different rates. Warmer air rises in the atmosphere in order to reach equilibrium, while colder air sinks closer to the ground. Because the air above the water is warmer than the air above land, it moves onshore creating what is called a sea breeze.

How does this create rain? When cold air and warm air interact, the warmer air is forced to rise into the atmosphere. If the air rises fast enough and there is sufficient moisture present, then a quick summer rain shower or thunderstorm like the one we saw yesterday in Bryan/College Station can form very fast.

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