Texas is the second-largest state in the United States with an area of about 266,807 square miles. It shares a southern border with Mexico, a northern border with Oklahoma, an eastern border with Louisiana and Arkansas, and a western border with New Mexico. Texas is known for its grasslands, vast plains, desert terrains, and rolling hills. Although Texas is a southern state, it does receive annual snowfall and has experienced severe snowstorms before.
Climate of Texas
The climate of Texas varies from humid in the east to arid in the west. Still, the state’s vast size encompasses several distinct climatic regions, including the Trans-Pecos region, Texas hill country, northern plains, South Texas, and Piney Woods. The area east of Interstate 35 experiences a subtropical climate, while the western portion is arid desert.
Texas receives the highest number of tornadoes than any other state in the country. On average, there are about 139 tornadoes in a year. A significant number of tornadoes emerge from the Gulf of Mexico or the eastern Pacific Ocean.
Snowfall in Texas
It snows in Texas during the winter, but the snow's amount and intensity are much smaller compared to the Northern, Western and Northeastern states. The average snowfall in the state is 0.1 inches. Snow remains on the ground for less than a week before melting.
Western Texas receives the largest snowfalls in the state. This region includes Amarillo (17.8 inches), Lubbock (8.2 inches), and El Paso (6.9 inches). North Central Texas receives average snow, with Wichita Falls (4.2 inches) receiving the highest snowfalls. South Central Texas, East Texas, and the Gulf Coast receive minimal or no snowfall at all.
History of Snow in Texas
The western and northern regions of Texas receives average snowfall in the winter due to low temperature. In February 1956, a severe snowstorm struck northern Texas for an entire week. The least amount measured 61 inches in one day. The southern and central regions receive unusual snowfall. In 1885, southeastern Texas received over 2 inches, with Port Arthur receiving peak snowfall of 30 inches. Valentine's Day in 1895 Houston was hit with 20 inches of snow on Feb. 14 and 15. The snow didn't just fall in Houston. It was a massive storm that dropped snow from Tampico, Mexico, to Pensacola, Florida, and set records in New Orleans and Alabama. In Christmas 2004, about thirteen inches of snow fell on the middle coast, with Victoria receiving the highest amount.
The longest low temperatures recorded in the state was in December 1983, when four stations reported continuous recordings of 32 °F (0 °C). The temperature remained below the freezing point for 139 hours in Austin, 202 hours in Abilene, 207 hours in Lubbock, and 296 hours at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. On December 14 and 15, 1983, the snow that fell on northern Texas lasted well into 1984. It snowed three times, dropping 2 inches on Jan. 11, 1.4 inches on Feb. 9-10, and 1.4 inches on Feb. 17-18. A winter storm in February 2020 dropped snow and ice also sent temperatures plunging across the southern Plains, prompting a power emergency in Texas a day after conditions cancelled flights and impacted traffic across large swaths of the U.S.