When it comes to climate, meteorologists usually divide Texas into three areas—modified marine (a.k.a. subtropics), continental, and mountain. These climate types aren’t divided by strict boundaries, but the vast majority of the state falls into the subtropics region (Central and East Texas ), which can be further divided into four subcategories based on humidity. We’ll just stick with the basics.
The subtropics region is primarily affected by tropical airflow from the Gulf of Mexico, and its four humidity-related subheadings delineate the moisture content of this northwest-moving air stream. The continental region is largely in the Panhandle, and is similar to the U.S. plains states with major temperature fluctuations, low relative humidity, and moderate amounts of randomly occurring rainfall. Cooler temperatures, low humidity, and arid conditions characterize the mountain climate in far West Texas.
Using these climate regions as a guide, it’s safe to assume the following about Texas’s weather: The eastern third of the state has a humid climate noted for its warm summers; the central region of Texas has a subhumid climate resulting in hot summers and dry winters; and most portions of West Texas tend to have semi-arid to arid conditions, often with extreme differences in temperature throughout the year.
Even the weather is extreme in Texas. Menacing hurricanes, treacherous tornadoes, and dangerous floods can strike at any time, and they wreak their havoc swiftly before clear skies and calm conditions return. Fortunately, Texans have learned from previous atrocities, resulting in evacuation plans and safety procedures. Though most of these events are seasonal, there’s an unpredictable nature to Texas’s nature, so visitors should be prepared for potential flash floods.
Most Gulf Coast  communities have hurricane evacuation plans in place, along with reinforced buildings and homes to brace against the torrential winds. Many seaside structures are also raised on piers to help prevent damage from the crashing waves during a tropical storm.
Things were quite different a century ago. Galveston  experienced the most destructive storm in U.S. history (before hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ike) in 1900, when a hurricane left at least 6,000 dead and leveled most of the city. A storm of equal intensity hit Galveston in 1915, but the city was prepared with its new seawall. The death toll was a comparatively low 275.
Texas also lies in the path of Tornado Alley, with its central corridor running from the Panhandle north through Kansas. The state’s worst tornado on record struck downtown Waco  in 1953, killing 114 people, injuring 597, and destroying or damaging more than 1,000 homes and buildings. In 1997, a mile-wide tornado (as in one mile wide) wreaked havoc on the Central Texas town of Jarrell, leaving only the concrete slabs of dozens of homes in its wake.
Floods have also taken their toll on Texas. Thunderstorms are a major event—they typically come barreling in from the west, spewing lightning and firing occasional hailstones everywhere in their path. Appearing as massive, intimidating red blobs on the radar screen, they furiously dump heavy sheets of rain on Texas’s lands, leaving saturated fields and overflowing rivers and streams in their wake.
One of the most destructive rainstorms in Texas history occurred in 1921, when floods in Central Texas killed 215 people. San Antonio  was sitting under nearly nine feet of water, and 36 inches of rain fell north of Austin  in just 18 hours (a U.S. record).