The 23-year-old from Swindon battled through the wind, rain and fog to card a four-under 68 and join the overnight leaders Ross Drummond, Van Phillips and Christopher Hanell on top of the leaderboard.
Howell, who leads the Order of Merit after his victory in the Dubai Desert Classic, briefly held the lead on his own after a birdie on the 17th took him to five under. And, although he dropped shot on the last after missing the green, Howell was delighted to have at last finished a round which started at 1pm on Thursday and was interrupted again yesterday.
"There's nothing you can do about the weather, so everybody is quite relaxed," said Howell, who had to begin his second round quickly.
Another in-form player, the Midlander John Bickerton, was one shot off the lead after completing his first-round 69 with three birdies and no dropped shots.