WINTER WEATHER CLIMATOLOGY

THE FOLLOWING REPRESENTS A HISTORICAL SNAPSHOT OF SOME OF THE
COLDEST TEMPERATURES ACROSS THE STATE OF TEXAS, AS WELL AS A
BRIEF REVIEW OF IMPORTANT WINTER WEATHER PRODUCTS FROM THE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN LUBBOCK.

FEBRUARY 1899 WAS A VERY COLD MONTH. DURING THE PERIOD OF FEBRUARY 11TH THROUGH THE 13TH, AN ARCTIC AIRMASS RACED SOUTH FROM THE NORTHERN AND CENTRAL PLAINS STATES INTO THE STATE OF TEXAS. THE BITTERLY COLD AIRMASS PLUNGED AS FAR SOUTH AS THE UPPER TEXAS COAST WHERE A THIN LAYER OF ICE COATED MOST OF GALVESTON BAY ON FEBRUARY 12TH.

SOME OF THE COLDEST WEATHER ON RECORD FOR THE STATE OF TEXAS
OCCURRED ON FEBRUARY 12TH. IN FACT, THE LOWEST TEMPERATURE IN THE
STATE OCCURRED RIGHT HERE IN WEST TEXAS. ON THE MORNING OF
FEBRUARY 12TH, THE THERMOMETER PLUMMETED TO 23 DEGREES BELOW ZERO AT TULIA IN SWISHER COUNTY. THERE WERE UNOFFICIAL REPORTS OF LOW TEMPERATURES REACHING 30 DEGREES BELOW ZERO IN THE NORTHERN PANHANDLE.

THE ALL TIME RECORD LOW TEMPERATURE ESTABLISHED AT TULIA WAS TIED
YEARS LATER WHEN ANOTHER ARCTIC AIRMASS PLUNGED INTO THE SOUTH
PLAINS. IN ADDITION, THE SMALL TOWN OF SEMINOLE IN GAINES COUNTY
REPORTED A TEMPERATURE OF 23 DEGREES BELOW ZERO ON FEBRUARY 8TH 1933.

THE YEARS 1899 AND 1933 WERE NOT THE ONLY YEARS FOR RECORD COLD
ACROSS THE STATE OF TEXAS. THE FOLLOWING IS A LIST OF CITIES WITH
CORRESPONDING RECORD LOW TEMPERATURES AND DATES OF OCCURRENCE.

ABILENE..................9 BELOW ZERO.....SET IN 1947
AMARILLO................16 BELOW ZERO.....SET IN 1899
AUSTIN...................2 BELOW ZERO.....SET IN 1949
BEAUMONT/PORT ARTHUR....11 DEGREES........SET IN 1930
BROWNSVILLE.............12 DEGREES........SET IN 1899
CORPUS CHRISTI..........11 DEGREES........SET IN 1899
DALLAS/FORT WORTH........8 BELOW ZERO.....SET IN 1899
DEL RIO.................10 DEGREES........SET IN 1989
EL PASO..................8 BELOW ZERO.....SET IN 1962
GALVESTON................8 DEGREES........SET IN 1899
HOUSTON..................5 DEGREES........SET IN 1930 AND 1940
LUBBOCK.................17 BELOW ZERO.....SET IN 1933
MIDLAND/ODESSA..........11 BELOW ZERO.....SET IN 1985
SAN ANGELO...............4 BELOW ZERO.....SET IN 1989
SAN ANTONIO..............0 DEGREES........SET IN 1949
WACO.....................5 BELOW ZERO.....SET IN 1949 AND 1899
WICHITA FALLS...........12 BELOW ZERO.....SET IN 1947

THE COMBINATION OF STRONG WIND AND VERY COLD TEMPERATURES CAN PRODUCE DANGEROUS WIND CHILL VALUES. THE WIND CHILL INDEX IS DEFINED AS THE COOLING EFFECT ON THE BODY RESULTING FROM A COMBINATION OF TEMPERATURE AND WIND. WIND CHILL IS BASED ON THE RATE OF HEAT LOSS FROM EXPOSED SKIN. THE THRESHOLD FOR DANGEROUS WIND CHILL TEMPERATURE IS -18 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT, AT WHICH POINT FROSTBITE CAN OCCUR ON EXPOSED SKIN WITHIN 30 MINUTES. THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WILL ISSUE A WIND CHILL WARNING FOR SUCH INSTANCES.

IN ADDITION TO RECORD COLD AND BITING WIND CHILLS, THE STATE OF
TEXAS EXPERIENCES VARIOUS WINTER WEATHER HAZARDS. ON CHRISTMAS EVE 2004, A STRONG UPPER LEVEL STORM SYSTEM CROSSED THE MEXICAN PLATEAU AND PRODUCED HEAVY SNOW AND ICE FROM BROWNSVILLE THROUGH CORPUS CHRISTI AND VICTORIA. RESIDENTS IN VICTORIA AWAKENED CHRISTMAS MORNING TO OVER A FOOT OF FRESH SNOW COVER.

HEAVY SNOWS ARE COMMON ACROSS THE TEXAS PANHANDLE. ALTHOUGH NOT AS LIKELY ACROSS THE SOUTH PLAINS, THEY DO OCCUR. IN JANUARY OF 1983, A WINTER STORM DROPPED A RECORD 16.3 INCHES AT THE LUBBOCK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT IN 24 HOURS. IN ADDITION TO THE DAILY RECORD SNOWFALL, A TOTAL OF 41.2 INCHES FELL DURING THE 1982/1983 SEASON. THIS IS THE ALL TIME RECORD FOR LUBBOCK. HEAVY SNOW OFTEN LEADS TO HAZARDOUS TRAVELING CONDITIONS. ADDITIONALLY, WINTER WEATHER HAZARDS AND RELATED IMPACTS ARE NOT EXCLUSIVE TO TRAVELERS. FOR INSTANCE, SHOVELING HEAVY SNOW CAN RESULT IN SERIOUS OR EVEN FATAL INJURY FOR THOSE NOT NORMALLY ACTIVE.

WHEN EXTREME WINTER WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE POSSIBLE OR IMMINENT,
YOUR LOCAL NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OFFICE WILL EITHER ISSUE A
WINTER WEATHER WATCH, WARNING OR ADVISORY. A WATCH MEANS THAT
CONDITIONS ARE POSSIBLE IN THE NEXT 36 HOURS. A WARNING MEANS
THAT WINTER WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE LIKELY TO OCCUR IN THE NEXT 12
HOURS. IF SNOW OR A WINTRY MIX IS FORECAST, AND NOT EXPECTED TO
DELIVER A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT TO LIFE OR PROPERTY, AN ADVISORY WILL
BE ISSUED FOR THE AREA.

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN LUBBOCK WISHES EVERYONE A SAFE AND HEALTHY WINTER SEASON. COME JOIN US AT: WWW.WEATHER.GOV/LUBBOCK


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