Weather forecasters are offering indications that heat-weary Texans may get a bit of relief this weekend, but it is expected to be short-lived.

"The next opportunity for these impressive heat streaks to come to an end looks to be Friday or Saturday," Heather Buchman, meteorologist for AccuWeather.com, said Thursday in an email to the Bulletin. "However, it will be a close call.

"A front that has stalled across Oklahoma will remain nearly stationary there through the end of the week. Friday into Saturday, however, it may nudge far enough south to bring clouds and even showers and thunderstorms to northern Texas."

The Brownwood area has only about a 20 percent chance of receiving rain, according to the San Angelo office of the National Weather Service, but the high temperatures will be a bit lower - perhaps 99 or 100 this afternoon. That's as much as 10 degrees cooler than what has been common in recent weeks.

While the chance of rain is slight, there will be an increase in clouds that can help limit heating during the day. Cool outflow from thunderstorms to the north could also keep temperatures in the double-digit range both today or Saturday.

Meanwhile, many Texans are anxious about long-term prospects for relief.

Recent predictions by the National Weather Service of a 50 percent chance there will be another La Niņa in the southern Pacific Ocean this fall can be taken two ways - with optimism or pessimism, according to Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas A&M University professor and Texas state climatologist.

Some may view the prediction with a sense of gloom, but before they get too pessimistic, they should remember the Weather Service is saying there's "only" a 50 percent chance, Nielsen-Gammon said.

The contribution of the very strong La Niņa pattern of mid-2010 to the worst drought in Texas history, continues to be felt throughout the state, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel reports.

"To look on the optimistic side, there is an equal 50-percent chance of having no La Niņa at this time," he said. "And even if there is a moderate La Niņa, it doesn't necessarily mean we will definitely have a dry winter again; it just means it will be more likely."

It's also important to remember that the large computer models used by the Weather Service are predicting "a weak to moderate" La Niņa, Nielsen-Gammon said, "not nearly as strong as the forecasts were saying at this time last year."

The La Niņa that developed in mid-2007 and lasted into 2009 was a moderate one, and though įit was associated with a dry summer, it was not nearly so devastating as the current weather pattern, he said.

But, Nielsen-Gammon warned, thatdoesn't guarantee the hardship the agricultural sector is experiencing will just go away. Whether or not there is an abnormal La Niņa this fall, a second year of even moderate drought would leave many water supplies in even worse shape.

"We already have had an extremely dry year, so we should see more precipitation next year, but there is still a very good chance it won't be good enough take us out of the drought, and we will still be having problems with dry conditions even into next summer," he said.