Live from the WX EDGE: Precipitable Water


BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) – Thursday morning’s drought monitor update showed us what we did not want to see: increasing drought conditions across the Brazos Valley.

Several days without significant rainfall has many wondering when we will be able to find our next batch of beneficial rain. Here’s the good news: because we have plenty of low-level moisture, the rain chances remain in the forecast throughout the upcoming weekend.

Although we are expecting to see spotty to scattered showers dot the Brazos Valley, rainfall totals are only expected to reach a few tenths of an inch with localized totals up to a quarter of an inch.

Why are the forecast rainfall totals so low? The answer has to do with a weather parameter called precipitable water.

Precipitable water, by definition, is how much moisture resides in a column of air in the atmosphere. It’s measured in inches, and is basically the amount of liquid that can be condensed out of that column if you were to squeeze it and wring it out.

The science behind lower rainfall totals this weekend.
The science behind lower rainfall totals this weekend.(KBTX)

When we talk about precipitable water values, we have to take into account how much moisture is in the entire column of air, from top to bottom. We have plenty of low-level moisture in place, which is what makes it feel so humid when you step outside and helps fog development in the early morning hours, but when we take a look at the moisture content in the entire column, precipitable water values are relatively low heading into the weekend.

That being said, rainfall totals are not looking to amount to very much across the Brazos Valley this weekend, but any rain that we can gather up is much appreciated after a several weeks of measuring up short.

Precipitable water values are on the relatively lower side heading into the weekend across the...
Precipitable water values are on the relatively lower side heading into the weekend across the Brazos Valley.(KBTX)

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