Does it snow in Texas | Houston, Austin and San Antonio

There are people who have only seen Texas on Westerns and television shows and those people believe that Texas is a vast dessert, but the truth is Texas has hills, mountains, dense forest areas, large lakes, and rivers, and we get snow too.

For the most part people in Texas get pretty excited by very small amounts of snow, but there are places that see snow fairly regular and there are places that see enough snow to actually consider it a snow ‘storm’.

Snowfall in Texas

In North Central Texas you can expect to see snow amounts equaling between 1.5 and 4.2 inches of snow per year. Witchita Falls generally sees the greatest annual percentages of snow in this area. 

In South Central Texas the snowfall each year ranges between 0.2 and 5.1 inches of accumulation. Midland sees the largest amounts of snow in this portion of Texas each year.

In East Texas the snowfall for a year is between 0.1 inches and 1.3 inches. The folks in Tyler see the most snow in Eat Texas.

In the Gulf Coast portion of Texas an annual snowfall between 0.1 inches and 0.2 inches is seen. Believe it or not, the folks in Corpus Christi see an average of 0.2 inches of snow in each year, while the folks in Beaumont, (which is farther north) see only about 0.1 inches of snow in a year.

The snowfall averages in West Texas are between 1.2 inches and 17.8 inches. Yep, you read that right. Those folks in West Texas are most likely to see the snow each year, and if you want to see the greatest amount of snow in a year while you are in Texas you need to head over to Amarillo.

Snowfall in Houston

It does snow in Houston, Texas, and there have been recorded amounts of snow in Houston that were greater than ten inches in a single snow event. Admittedly those heavy accumulations of snow have happened very few times since weather data has been recorded, but it can, and does happen.

The snow records for Houston date back to 1881. Since that date Houston has seen snow falls more than 94 times. In the winter of 2017 – 2018 Houstonians saw it snow three times in one year! The only other time Houstonians saw it snow this many times in a year was back in 1973.

Houston saw its earliest recorded snowfall occur in November of 2018, and its latest recorded snowfall occurred in March of 1968. That actually happened on March 22, 1968 so it was dang near April.

Snowfall in San Antonio

An average winter sees San Antonio seeing a trace amount of snowfall. Usually many years pass between measurable snowfalls in this portion of Texas, but snow does fall in San Antonio, and sometimes those snowfall totals are pretty impressive.

  • January 1949 saw San Antonio receive 11.9 inches of snow
  • February 1964 saw them receive 5.1 inches
  • February 1966 they got 7.9 inches
  • February 1973 they got 5.1 inches
  • January 1982 they got 1.3 inches
  • January 1985 they got 33.5 inches
  • February 2004 they got 1.5 inches
  • February 2011 they got 1.0 inches
  • December 2017 they got 4.8 inches

On the average years San Antonio only receives a trace amount of snow, but there are times when the snows come down pretty heavy in this Texas town, and the Alamo is dusted with plenty of powder.

Snowfall in Austin

It is hard for some people to believe but in Austin, Texas about one inch of snow falls each year. Of course there are years when the snowfall amounts are far greater than an inch, but on average they get one inch every year.

The records show that Austin received more significant amounts of snow in:

  • December 1929 they got 5.5 inches
  • January 1930 they got 1.3 inches
  • November 1937 they got 6.o inches
  • January 1940 they got 2.0 inches
  • January 1944 they got 3.9 inches
  • January 1949 they got 6.5 inches
  • February 1951 they got 1.0 inches
  • November 1959 they got 1.0 inches
  • February 1963 they got 1.0 inches
  • February 1964 they got 4.0 inches
  • March 1965 they got 2.0 inches
  • February 1966 they got 5.0 inches
  • February 1967 they got 2.0 inches
  • January 1970 they got 1.5 inches
  • November 1980 they got 1.0 inches
  • January 1982 they got 2.0 inches
  • January 1985 they got 3.9 inches
  • February 2004 they got 1.5 inches

Remarkable Snowfalls in the History of Texas

Of course there are states that see a lot more snow than Texas will ever see, but there have been incidences when parts of Texas received some amazing amounts of snow.

1895 Houston Texas Snowstorm/ Gulf Coast Blizzard of 1895 (1)

In 1895, on Valentine’s Day, Houston Texans were surprised by 20 inches of snow. As you can imagine this amount of snow was crippling, especially for an area that rarely sees snow. 

The winter of 1894 – 1895 was one of the coldest ever recorded. Freezing temperatures had crippled the Orange crops in Florida, every state in the United States was suffering from unusually cold conditions.

On the 6th of February Houston Texas was a typical 600 and people were enjoying their normal February activities, not suspecting that in a few short days they would have an honest to God snowstorm to deal with. The very next day a cold front barreled through the state and dropped the temperatures in Houston to the lower 20’s. On the 8th the temperature was 100 and then in true Texas fashion it warmed on up to the mid to high 40’s by the 11th. Then on the 12th and 13th another cold front came blasting into Texas, and by Wednesday the 13th of February 1895 the temperatures in Houston were once again freezing cold.

This snowstorm is considered to be one of the greatest weather irregularities that has occurred in the United States. The next time Houston would see a large amount of snow would be in 1960; when they received a whopping 4.4 inches.

1957 Blizzard in the Texas Panhandle (3)

The blizzard of 1957 is a storm that is still mentioned in the Panhandle of Texas when people start talking about cold winters, and possible winter storms. The storm blew into the Panhandle region of Texas on March 22nd; which was a Friday. By the time the event was over it had done so much destruction that to this day it is in the record books as being one of the most destructive storms to ever hit the Panhandle.

When the storm arrived it started out as a rain event that later turned into a snow event, and for two solid days snow fell in this region, and winds whipped through at speeds that reached 60 miles per hour at times. When the snow stopped falling there was an accumulation on the ground that totaled between 10 and 15 inches and reports of snow drifts that were as deep as 30 feet.

The snowstorm did more than 6 million dollars in damages, and it claimed eleven human lives, and countless livestock. There was one report of a delivery driver who became disoriented by the white-out conditions and got lost on the highway. He turned on the wrong road and his truck became stuck in the snow. The vehicle was buried by the rapidly falling snow and the driver died in his vehicle.

There were reports of snow being so deep that it came all the way up to the rooflines of houses, and some people said they had to get on their roofs and try to shovel away the heavy snow so the weight of the winter precipitation would not cave in their roofs.

The National Weather Service has this storm recorded as being one of the top 10 weather related events to occur during the 20th century. I sure hope we never see another one like this.

1985 Snowstorm in San Antonio (4)

13.5 inches of snow blanketed San Antonio after three days in January of 1985. According the government weather records this storm brought more snow than the horrific blizzard of 1895. 

Before this snowstorm the highest recorded amount of snow in San Antonio had occurred on January, 1926, when 6 inches of the powdery substance had blanketed the city. The January 1985 snowfall amounts were more than double what had been recorded in 1926, and the snow brought the city to a screeching halt.

2015 Snowfall in Lubbock Texas (2)

There is an old song that says ‘happiness is Lubbock Texas in your rearview mirror’ and on December 27, 2015 people were beginning to believe this statement to be a fact. Snow was falling so hard that near ‘white-out’ conditions were occurring in Lubbock, Texas! By the time the weekend was over Lubbock had received 11” of snow on the ground and experienced one of the worst winter storms in their history.

This snowstorm came on the heels of a severe tornado outbreak that had occurred across the state of Texas; claiming 11 lives before the twisters were finished creating destruction through the southern portions of the state.

Final Notes

Snow days in Texas do not come every winter like they do in some of the northern states. Our schools let out when we are threatened with just a dusting of snow, and the majority of people in Texas, do not own snow-chains and have never driven in snow.

Texas does get the occasional snow event, and we do make a big deal out of it, but that is okay we hear that some of the northern states get excited when their summer temperatures get into the triple digits. Heck we call those triple digit days, average summer afternoons.

References:

  1. Matt Lanza, Space City Rewind: Houston’s Great Snow of 1895,2/2017, https://spacecityweather.com/houston-snow-1895-galveston/
  2. NWS Lubbock, TX, Christmas Weekend Blizzard, December 26-27, 2015, https://www.weather.gov/lub/events-20151227-blizzard
  3. Dawn Stephens, Blizzard of 1957, March 2017, https://www.texascooppower.com/texas_stories/history/blizzard-of-1957
  4. Remembering the January 11 – 13, 1985 snowstorm over South Central Texas, https://www.weather.gov/media/ewx/wxevents/ewx-19850113.pdf

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