Winter doesn’t officially arrive in the Western Hemisphere until this weekend, but for those who live in the Rio Grande Valley it might feel like it arrived sooner.
A cold front will move through South Texas, bringing in a significant change in temperatures. This weekend, temperatures hovered at 90 degrees, with daily records broken in McAllen (93) and Brownsville (90), but on Tuesday they will range between 40-60 degrees.
The National Weather Service in Brownsville said mornings will feel even colder Wednesday and Thursday.
“The combination of morning temperatures in the mid- to upper 30s with a continued north/northwest wind at 8 to 12 mph will make it feel like upper 20s to around 30 (degrees) for most of the Lower Valley on Wednesday morning,” said NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist Barry Goldsmith.
“Temperatures may touch freezing across wind-protected ranch and farmlands Wednesday morning, and ‘feels like’ temperatures will be the coldest since mid-November across the lower and perhaps mid-Valley area in time for the school bus/commute on Wednesday.”
Ranches in Starr, Zapata and Jim Hogg counties may see temperatures fall below freezing.
The rains that accompanied the front will not make it to South Texas, so while winds will be much lighter, humidity will be very low, increasing the threat for fast-spreading wildfires and creating an elevated fire danger for the western part of the Valley.
Goldsmith says the dryness and wind will continue to worsen drought conditions in the region.
“To be safe, burning is not recommended Tuesday and probably Wednesday, as well,” Goldsmith said. “Farmers and ranchers should park vehicles on dirt or paved surfaces, and refrain from using tractors, welding, or grinding equipment in any high grass or brush.”
Forecasters say dangerous marine conditions that were created by the front will remain in effect for all of the lower Texas coastal waters. Until a gale warning expires Tuesday, the high seas and strong winds could damage or capsize vessels.
The drop in temperatures comes as the northern part of the country experiences a very cold winter with snow and frigid temperatures.
Across Texas, most cities are experiencing freezing temperatures with Dallas, Amarillo and El Paso forecast to be in the low 20s Tuesday morning, while San Antonio, Galveston and Houston will be in the low 30s.
While temperatures will feel like it’s freezing, there will be plenty of sun Tuesday and Wednesday.
As for the Christmas forecast, Goldsmith says it will be a typical winter day in the Valley — sunny with temperatures in the 80s.