A weather map in March or November tells the story of Texas’s variable climate in a visually stunning way—the entire spectrum of colors is represented across the state. From icy 20-degree blues in the Panhandle to balmy 90-degree reds in the Valley, the rainbow of Texas’s diverse climate is a revealing diagram.
When it comes to weather-related records, Texas’s books are virtually off the chart. Consider these extreme extremes: The state’s record temperatures range from negative 23 degrees (Seminole, in the southwestern Panhandle, 1933) to 120 degrees (Seymore, north of Abilene, 1936). Texas’s greatest annual rainfall was 109 inches (Clarksville, in northeastern Texas, 1873), and the least was 1.8 inches (Wink, in far West Texas, 1956). Also of note, Texas’s highest sustained wind velocity was 145 mph, when Hurricane Carla hit the Gulf Coast in 1961.
Otherwise, the state’s average rainfall typically exceeds 56 inches annually in East Texas, while El Paso and other parts of West Texas typically receive less than 8 inches each year. The average annual precipitation in Dallas is nearly 35 inches, and Houston averages approximately 48 inches. One final note of interest: the Route 66 town of Vega in the Texas Panhandle receives an average of 23 inches of snow per year, while Brownsville, at the mouth of the Rio Grande, has no measurable snowfall on record.
Texas has two main seasons—a hot summer that lasts from approximately May through October, and a winter that starts in November and usually lasts until March. By the time summer is over, most of Texas’s landscape is too crisp and dry for fall foliage. Some colors are visible in the East Texas forests, but most of the state settles into a brownish hue until rains bring life and greenery back to the state in March.
© Andy Rhodes from Moon Texas, 6th Edition