HOUSTON - While its ultimate landfall is still not expected to impact Houston directly, several computer models suggest it'll track farther west -- toward Texas -- than earlier outlooks. I'm still thinking it'll miss us by a fair margin, but it could slam our neighbors to the east, in Louisiana.
The reason I don't see it nudging far enough west to directly hit Houston (despite a stout, blocking area of high pressure over Florida) is due to upper-level wind patterns ahead of a cold front. That force should guide the storm safely to our east. (That cold front should ultimately push into our region toward the middle of next week. Ahead of the arrival of the pleasant, drier air, atmospheric steering winds will beginning to veer from west to east. Like a gentle hand, it'll tend to push Nate east, away from Texas.)
That aforementioned area of high pressure -- expected to grow over Florida -- is why it now seems Nate will impact Louisiana instead of FL's panhandle. The worst weather is still going to be on the east side of Nate, so the heaviest rain, greatest tornado threat and gustiest winds will remain hundreds of miles to our east and may impact the FloriBama region even if the center makes landfall farther west.
Houston may see a few rain showers this weekend associated with Nate, but other than that, all eyes here will be on that cold front next week. (This won't be a mega front, causing you to run for that old winter jacket in the closet, but will make the air feel much more comfortable. Unfortunately for our confidence in this forecast, the global weather models are now backing away from the front actually making it all the way through, but it does seem like a good bet at least the humidity will go down for a few days toward the middle and end of next week. Regardless the system should get close enough to at least steer Nate away from us.)
There are several things that could still affect the progress of Nate's track and especially its intensity. As always with the tropics, it's a fluid and changeable situation, so stay close to the forecast -- especially if you have plans to go to NOLA this weekend. They could experience flooding and power outages.
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