Like most locations in the southern United States, winters are generally considered mild in the South Plains area. However, this does not preclude extended periods of freezing temperatures and wintry precipitation from occurring. Cold fronts that frequently move through the region during the winter months are often accompanied by strong, gusty, northerly winds and sharp drops in temperature.
Winter precipitation is closely associated with frontal activity and may fall as rain, freezing rain, sleet or snow depending on the depth of the cold air mass that invades the area. The deeper the cold air - the greater the likelihood that the precipitation will fall as snow. Shallow cold air masses usually result in a wintry mixture of freezing rain, sleet, and rain.
For the Lubbock area, there are typically 87 days from November through March on which the temperature falls to 32 degrees or below. During this same period, there are an average of 7 days on which the daily high temperature remains at or below 32 degrees. The most consecutive number of hours of temperatures at or below freezing was 207 hours from December 17th through December 26th, 1983. The coldest temperature ever recorded was -17 degrees on February 8th,1933.
On average, Lubbock receives about 8 inches of snow each winter with most of it falling during the months of December through February. Counties to the north and west typically receive slightly heavier annual snowfalls while counties to the east and south typically receive slightly less snow each year. The earliest recorded snowfall occurred on October 8th, 2000 and the latest reported snowfall occurred on May 6th, 1917. The heaviest 24 hour snowfall, 16.3 inches, occurred in Lubbock on January 20-21, 1983. The most snow recorded during an entire season was 41.2 inches, which fell during the 1982-1983 winter.