Update: The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for North Texas and Denton County through midnight.
Changing weather could mar the merrymaking Friday because meteorologists can’t rule out afternoon thunderstorms as volunteers set up the Holiday Lighting Festival on the Square.
After dark, however, the risk for big weather moves to East Texas, when the winds are expected to shift from the south to the southwest bringing a dry line, according to Ted Ryan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.
“You may get a late afternoon storm,” Ryan said, adding after the winds change, Denton County should be in the clear. “You guys should be OK for the most part.”
On the books, though, the National Weather Service calls for a 30 percent chance of storms Friday afternoon decreasing to 20 percent in the evening.
The festival is organized as a rain-or-shine event. Plenty of activities occur inside the courthouse building and downtown businesses, giving revelers a chance to wait out any stray shower.
Festival organizer Michelle Boerst said she is closely monitoring the weather forecast, too.
“We don’t let the rain dampen our holiday spirits,” Boerst said.
But hail, high winds and lightning do, she added.
“We will call it if our vendors, performers or guests are in any danger,” Boerst said.
In 2013, volunteers canceled most activities as an ice storm rolled in, one of the rare times weather significantly altered the plans for this 30-year-old event.
For those traveling through East Texas this weekend, meteorologists say the severe weather threat is greatest to the east of a line from Bonham to Hearne. The big weather hazards include damaging winds and hail, with tornadoes possible. That threat continues overnight Friday into early Saturday morning.
The changing weather pattern is expected to set up a beautiful weekend for North Texas, with sunny skies on tap for most of Saturday and Sunday. Temperatures are expected to reach the low 70s Saturday afternoon and the upper 60s on Sunday.
However, meteorologists also call for an elevated wildfire risk with the dry air, particularly in the region’s western counties.
Cooler air returns next week, with highs in the upper 40s and lower 50s under continuing sunny skies.