Freezing rain potential brings travel concerns for portions of the Brazos Valley through Wednesday
Main travel issues will be on bridges, overpasses, and elevated surfaces
BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - The National Weather Service has issued Winter Weather Advisories, Winter Storm Watches, and Winter Storm Warnings across the state of Texas beginning Monday through Wednesday. The shallow, cold air mass that moved through Texas on Sunday will interact with moisture over the first half of the week prompting concerns for freezing rain and ice accumulations as far south as portions of the Brazos Valley.
WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE:
More updates to current winter advisories in place across the Brazos Valley. Milam, Robertson, and Leon counties are now under a Winter Storm Warning until 9am Thursday morning. Lee county’s warning still comes to an end at 6am Thursday morning, while Brazos, Washington, Madison, and Burleson counties are still expected to end at noon today. The Winter Weather Advisory in place for Houston, Walker, Grimes, Waller, and Austin counties is also expected to end at noon today.
Since about 2:30am this morning, a steady band of freezing rain and drizzle has been positioned over the northwestern portions of the Brazos Valley, stretching from Lee to Leon and as far south as Grimes and Walker counties. Rain and freezing rain coverage and intensity began to dwindle at 8:30. The freezing line is expected to move further to the northwest throughout the day, possibly moving out of the Brazos Valley completely. We will keep about a 10-20% chance for some freezing drizzle in the north and western counties until those Winter Storm Warnings come to an end Thursday morning, while the rest of the Brazos Valley transitions to rain.
Conditions will slightly improve throughout the day. Little to no ice accumulation on the roads this morning. The concern continues to be on elevated roadways and bridges. Tree branches have also been downed across the Brazos Valley due to the buildup of ice tearing them to the ground. Locally, some smaller tree branches were spotted downed on George Bush Dr. in College Station and a tree was found downed on FM 979 in Robertson County near the golf course. Even if conditions are expected to improve throughout the day as temperatures warm ever so slightly above freezing, please still remain cautious on the roadways.
Some counties in the western portions of the Brazos Valley are reporting power outages, however, the majority seem to be near Austin. Lee, Milam, Robertson, and Leon counties are experiencing the highest amount of outages in our viewing area. To check whether your county is experiencing outages, click here.
TUESDAY EVENING UPDATE:
New data this evening suggests there is a potential that at least a glazing of ice could be found on elevated surfaces further south and east into the Brazos Valley, by sunrise Wednesday. The next round of scattered, light rain is moves into the area between 1 am and 3am from the southwest. Thermometer can fall to or just shy of 32° as far south as a line from Brenham to Hempstead to Huntsville to Crockett.
The more significant ice accumulation potential that brings the ability to cause more widespread travel issues is still expected to be confined to the central and northern reaches of the Brazos Valley. New ice totals could stack as high as 0.1″ to 0.2″. Most of these impacts will be experienced on elevated roadways, although some surface streets could become slick in spots as well.
Through the morning Wednesday, the freeze line should move back to the Northern Brazos Valley by mid-morning. Around midday, much of the area will find thermometers above 32° by a degree or two. Freezing rain potential generally moves out of the area by late afternoon as this event transitions back to a cold rain potential Wednesday evening, night, and Thursday morning.
TUESDAY MORNING UPDATE:
While we were sleeping, the National Weather Service made some changes to the current winter advisories in place. Brazos, Washington, and Madison counties joined the Winter Storm Warning in place for Burleson county until noon Wednesday. The Winter Weather Advisory has been extended to include Houston, Grimes, Walker, Waller, and Austin counties also in place until noon Wednesday. Milam, Robertson, Leon, and Lee counties remain under a Winter Storm Warning but the time has been extended until 6 am Thursday morning.
A small shift in the band of heaviest freezing rain, especially tonight into Wednesday morning, has nudged forecasted ice accumulations up. Anywhere from a light glaze to over 0.25″ possible, with the highest amounts occurring in our northwestern counties. These will not be evenly spread across all counties with a warning or advisory in place, rather a sharp gradient can be expected with some areas (particularly those in the advisory) not seeing any accumulation.
If this heavier band of freezing rain does come to fruition, it could cause issues to roadways other than just bridges and overpasses. While this is a more likely issue to our north and northwestern counties, and just outside the Brazos Valley it is worth keeping an eye on. The National Weather Service has pushed the highest impacts to daily life further into the Brazos Valley stretching from Lee through portions of Madison county with more limited impacts stretching as far south as Austin and Waller counties.
MONDAY NIGHT UPDATE:
Temperatures have been generally holding steady across the Brazos Valley since sunset -- a trend that is expected to continue into Tuesday morning. Those in a line from Centerville to OSR at the Brazos/Robertson County line (or just south of it) to Caldwell to Giddings will likely wake up to slick spots on bridges and overpasses, at the least. South of that line, which includes Bryan-College Station, is expected to hold a degree or two above freezing through the night. Still a good idea to check road conditions and school closings first thing in the morning.
Another trend that is being monitored tonight is the potential for a more impactful round of freezing rain late Tuesday afternoon and evening through the night to early Wednesday morning. Some of the latest data suggests a heavier rainfall that would have the potential to freeze on surfaces across the Northern and Central Brazos Valley. If this were to pan out, travel impacts would be likely on Brazos Valley roads and a growing concern for the potential of tree limbs and power lines to be weighed down by ice would need to be considered. In this scenario, ice accumulations between 0.25″ and 0.50″ could be common, with isolated higher totals.
For the time being, the National Weather Service has the highest impacts to daily life noted along and north of the Highway 79 corridor. Updated data through the night and early Wednesday morning will be evaluated to adjust anticipated ice accumulation totals. For now, nothing to react to but something to monitor for early Tuesday morning travels and plans.
MONDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE:
The National Weather Service in Houston has upgraded Burleson county to a Winter Storm Warning as well as added Madison and Houston counties to the Winter Weather Advisory. The time for these advisories has also been extended until noon on Wednesday.
Winter Storm Warning: This warning is in place until Wednesday at 12pm for Milam, Robertson, Leon, Lee, and Burleson counties.
- Main Concerns: Periods of rain occasionally mixing into freezing rain at times are expected. Ice accumulation up to 0.2″ is possible with the highest totals situated near and northwest of Caldwell. This could impact travel on roadways, particularly on bridges, overpasses, and any elevated surface but some slick spots at ground level cannot be ruled out.
Winter Weather Advisory: This is in effect until Wednesday at 12pm for Brazos, Houston, Madison, and Washington counties.
- Main Concerns: Most precipitation that falls in these areas will be liquid rain, but a light glaze of ice will be possible. Ice concerns will be mainly contained to bridges, overpasses, and elevated surfaces as ground temperatures may stay above freezing.
MONDAY MORNING UPDATE:
The National Weather Service has upgraded the Winter Storm Watch to a Winter Storm Warning for Lee, Milam, Robertson, and Leon counties. A Winter Weather Advisory has been put in place for Washington, Burleson, and Brazos County. While for now, these warnings only include seven area counties, it is likely that others will be added later on today. The biggest travel concerns begin as early as this evening and overnight.
Winter Storm Warning: This lasts until Wednesday morning at 6am for Milam, Robertson, and Leon counties and until 12pm for Lee county.
- Local Impacts - Ice accumulations from 0.1″ to 0.5″ of ice are possible, mainly on elevated surfaces and roadways. The higher totals of accumulation are expected to the north and west of the Brazos Valley, with local totals closer to 0.1″-0.25″. Roadways will become slick at times and tree limbs could begin to sag, leading to possible localized power outages.
Winter Weather Advisory: This is in effect until Tuesday morning at 6am for Brazos, Burleson, and Washington counties.
- Local Impacts - Most precipitation that falls in these areas will be liquid rain, but a light glaze of ice will be possible. Ice concerns will be mainly contained to bridges, overpasses, and elevated surfaces as ground temperatures may stay above freezing. This will not be as disruptive to your day as areas that are included in the Winter Storm Warning but still could cause travel concerns.
Where the freezing line sets up will continue to play a *huge* role in what we see fall from the sky over the next few days. Continue to stay tuned on air, online, and on the KBTX PinPoint Weather App to get the latest information.
The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for Milam county. A Winter Weather Advisory has been put into place for Lee County. Both of these essentially mean that freezing rain is possible as the latest cold front brings temperatures to the steady 30s for the next 48 hours or more. Warm temperatures higher up in the atmosphere, and freezing temperatures at the surface could lead to minor ice accumulation, particularly on elevated roadways. Locally, most of the Brazos Valley will experience just cold rain. No other Brazos Valley counties are included in the watch at this time.
- Duration: Monday Noon - Wednesday 9 a.m.
- Local Impacts: Possibility of ice accumulation, mainly on elevated surfaces (i.e., bridges). Greatest impacts are expected north and west of the Brazos Valley, however, some roadways could become slick or glazed with ice through mid-week.
The National Weather Service has said that minor travel impacts are expected south of Waco. However, recent data suggest that light freezing rain is possible as far south as Milam and Lee Counties Monday. That potential could extend further to include Robertson, Leon Counties Tuesday, maybe even further south into parts of Burleson, Brazos, and Madison Counties. Everything that falls from the sky through mid-week is expected to do so as liquid rain. What needs to be monitored is where thermometers could drop to or just below 32°. Where that happens, that liquid will have the chance to freeze on contact -- particularly on elevated roadways and surfaces.
The following image shows where the greatest ice accumulation is expected. Notice that the Brazos Valley is modeled to show little-to-no accumulation...but this could change as new data is calculated. The main time to monitor for any travel impacts locally falls between late Monday evening and Wednesday morning.
This is a forecast where a degree or two change on the thermometer will cause a big difference in impacts for the Brazos Valley. It is important to keep up with the forecast this week and monitor changes, particularly across the Highway 79 corridor and in Milam, Robertson, and Leon Counties.
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