Local Meteorologist Provides Weekly Galveston Beach Updates

Here, we'll bring you the latest updates on Galveston Beach conditions from a trusted source — your local meteorologist Dr. Hal Needham!

Researchers say the large seaweed blob is unlikely to affect Galveston beaches majorly. Stay up-to-date with details about this natural environmental event, learn about the ecological benefits of Sargassum, Galveston beach water conditions, and more in this blog.

Galveston Weather and Water Report - Tue, Sept 19, 2023

Blue Water Prevails along the Upper Texas Coast, as Festival Season Kicks Off This Weekend!

Blue water continues to prevail along the Upper Texas Coast. Light winds in recent days have produced calmer water conditions that enable more sediment to drop out of the water.

Also, blue water is more likely in the region during this time of the year, as rivers in the region are generally lower, which results in less sediment discharged into the Gulf of Mexico. By contrast, regional rivers like the Mississippi run high in the spring, filled with rainfall and snowmelt from inland locations that carry with it a lot of sediment.

Check out this blog post to learn more about the dynamic water colors seen from Galveston beaches: https://www.visitgalveston.com/blog/galveston-water-color-explained/.

In addition to light winds and calm, blue waters, the water clarity should be better than normal through the day on Tuesday. Waves should remain small, around 1 foot or less, and rip current risk will be low to moderate.

The wind and water conditions should feel different on Wednesday and Wednesday night, as a slight disturbance moving through the region increases winds from the southeast at 10 to 15 mph, with gusts to 20 mph. Under these conditions, wave heights will increase to 2 to 3 feet, rip current risk will be moderate to high, water color will become darker and water clarity worse than normal.

Fortunately, conditions will calm down again from Thursday through the weekend, with generally light southeast winds, warm weather, and mostly sunny skies with a few spotty showers. High temperatures should reach around 90F Tuesday and Wednesday and the upper 80s Thursday through the weekend.

Water Temperatures Remain Warm

Water has a longer "memory" than air, meaning it stays warm longer in the late summer and early autumn and cooler in the late winter and early spring. This concept relates to the term "specific heat capacity" that we learned in high school physics class.

In real-world application, it means that Gulf Coast locations like Galveston Island enjoy an extended summer that lasts well into October. This surprises many people who visit or relocate from inland or northern locations. The water temperature on the tide gauge recently has been reading around 85F in the morning and maxing out around 87F every afternoon. We should expect water temps to generally stay in the mid-80s through the rest of the week and weekend.

Festival Season Kicking Off

Festival season kicks off this weekend with the Galveston Island Shrimp Festival on Fri, Sep 22 and Sat Sep 23. This festival features an abundance of grilled, sauteed, fried and blackened shrimp in so many different dishes. The Gumbo Cook-Off is a crowd favorite, as it brings in teams from many locations to compete for the best gumbo at the festival. Live music at the festival will make downtown Galveston even more vibrant, while Saturday morning's 5K fun run will give you even more reasons to justify the extra calories in your diet this weekend.

Before the festival kicks off, don't miss the last lecture in the Women In Coastal Science Lecture Series, Fri, Sep 22 at East Beach at 900AM. This month's speaker is Virgie Greb from Texas A&M Galveston. The speaker series has featured six cutting-edge female scientists who gave presentations from April through September.

What is Sargassum?

Sargassum (noun): a brown seaweed with berrylike air bladders, typically forming large floating masses.

Sargassum is a natural part of the environment. Much of it forms in the Sargasso Sea, an area of relatively calm seas just north of the eastern Caribbean. Sargassum then drifts with the currents from east to west through the Caribbean, then into the Gulf of Mexico, through the Yucatán Channel.

Map of the Sargasso Sea

The most vulnerable areas in our basin generally include the Florida Keys/ South Florida and SE Louisiana through the Florida Panhandle. It is rare that a large sargassum landing would impact the upper Texas Coast, but it has happened before in 2014.

The Benefits of Sargassum

Despite what some beachgoers may think about its appearance, seaweed isn’t all bad. In fact, seaweed has many environmental benefits. Sargassum serves as a floating ecosystem for marine life. Here, eels breed, turtle hatchlings find sanctuary and scores of other species thrive. Sargassum also serves as a protective barrier from beach erosion.

Galveston Beaches

Join Artist Boat for Bucket Brigade Interpretive Beach Tours to explore the creatures and features that make Galveston beaches unique! There is more to the Sargassum and turbid water than many people think, and there is much more to be found on the beach than just sand.

Tours are educational and fun for ocean lovers of all ages. Hands-on activities investigate topics including Galveston’s turbid water, marine debris, Sargassum landings, and more! All ages welcome!

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Dr. Hal Needham Meteorologist