Weather Wise, Houston
I took some pictures last summer in the MIDDLE OF JULY...and it shows you the size of the hail. Now, you have to know, in July and August the weather does not get below 90 degrees even at NIGHT. So, to see hail like this was simply amazing. It really made me nervous for my car...not to imagine if you have a rental car.
And, this storm....probably lasted about 5-10 minutes as most of our rainstorms do. It may be rainy or dark for a day or two but the actual rain doesn't (usually) last very long.
Just be careful when you're out! That hail hurt!!
You don't often think of Southern US cities for extreme weather, but Houston's weather can be nasty-especially in the summer. Thunderstorms and rain can be very heavy, but it's the summer heat & humidty that'll really get you. The locals call them 90/90 days-90 degree heat, 90% humidity.
Houston is the only place where I've been in a swimming pool-and sweated. I thought I saw the pool water on the boil!
In my opinion the hot summer months present the biggest danger in Houston. The National Weather Service claims that the average temp. for August is 93F however in 2000 the temp. peaked at 107F. Practically all Houstonians will say that the heat index is the main danger because the temperature may read 93F but the heat index is usually in the hundreds. In August of 2000 a local news station decided to go out into the city and take temperature readings instead of just taking the NWS's word. The results were astounding; a reading taken from inside a car which had been sitting in the sun for hours was 120F and just off highway 59 a reading of 140F was recorded on the pavement.
Every year there is a increase in the number of heat stroke fatalities most of which are the elderly and children.
My advice is not to visit Houston in the late summer months however if you have to be here during the summer try to stay indoors as much as possible. If for some reason you find yourself outdoors, drink lots of water and look out for the signs of heat stroke; heavy breathing, accelerated pulse and no persperation. Finally and I can't stress this enough, DO NOT leave pets or children waiting in cars while you run errands.
Houston is located on the Gulf Coast which is prone to be hit by hurricanes from end of June to end of October. If you visit during this period of time, stay aware of the weather forecast.
Definitions from the National Hurricane Center in the US.
The terms "hurricane" and "typhoon" are regionally specific names for a strong "tropical cyclone". A tropical cyclone is the generic term for "a non-frontal synoptic scale low-pressure system over tropical or sub-tropical waters with thunderstorm activity and definite cyclonic surface wind circulation", which means in plain words a very big tempest!!
Winds 17 m/s (34 kt, 39 mph) = "tropical depressions".
Winds > 17 m/s = "tropical storm"
Winds > 33 m/s (64 kt, 74 mph) = "hurricane" in North America and "typhoon" in East Asia
Finally, "storm surge" is the onshore rush of sea or lake water caused by the high winds associated with a landfalling hurricane.
There are 5 categories of hurricane which are described here, depending on wind speed, storm surge extend and damage caused.
What to do in case a hurricane might hit can be found here.
When it rains in Houston, it rains hard! It is generally tropical storms. The ground thus gets rapidly saturated in water and floods occur. Be especially careful when driving around; an innocent pool of water might be deep enough to drown your engine...
Always take a sweater with you, even in the hottest days of the summer. Every single building has air conditioning, and it can be freezing in restaurants, shops or museums.