Texas has vast skies and warm weather though parts of the state experience heavy rain during springtime and a bit in the fall. Winters are mild, especially compared to northern states. Although generally, Texas has summer-like conditions, the weather conditions can get severe. This state is known for experiencing tornadoes, hurricanes, thunder and hailstorms, and droughts. The state has seen a bit of everything (including blizzards), and it’s also seen some incredibly warm temperatures during the winter months. But how did this winter compare to Texas’ warmest winter ever?
The Warmest Winter Ever Recorded in Texas’ History
La Niña conditions tend to invite dry, warm weather. It was no different in the winter of 2021. Weather like this in Texas during the month of December hadn’t been this warm since 1889, when the average daily temperature was 59 °F. For some context, Texas typically experiences 12-degree cooler temps throughout December as far as has been recorded in the 20th century. Of course, in 1889, there wasn’t nearly as much technology or data as there is today. Still, based on existing records, climatologists confirm that the conditions in the winter of 2021 were quite similar to those just over 130 years ago.
In 1933, December experienced record-setting temperatures, when they averaged 53.3 °F. More recently, in 2017, a record for the warmest February was set when temperatures averaged 58.4 °F. Cities including Dallas, Abilene, and Del Rio all experienced a significantly warmer December in 2021. With the warmer temperatures, drought conditions worsened. When January 2022 rolled around, 55% of the entire state was experiencing severe drought conditions. The La Niña conditions were as expected, with warmth and lack of rain driving the pattern.
This weather pattern occurs every three to five years and affects the United States, particularly in the north and south. The south experiences warmer, drier effects, and the north gets the opposite, with cold and stormy conditions. The Texas Panhandle is the spot in Texas that received the majority of the warmer weather, with several wildfires raging, even causing evacuations. Although winter conditions are usually uneventful in this area, heavy rains during summer left much drier conditions than usual, causing anomalies.
Average Highs and Lows This Year
In November 2022, Texas received some much-needed rainfall across different counties, including Williamson, Bastrop, and San Saba. Southwest of Austin, drought conditions are still quite severe, however. Typically, Texas has short winters that get cold, windy, and dry. The sky is often partly cloudy, extending into other seasons throughout the year. On average, temperatures don’t spike past 102 °F or dip below 24 °F, though there have been some exceptions.
This past winter has also been warm. For instance, in Austin, the hottest December day was a sizzling 82 °F, but the temps did get frigid, with the lowest temperature dipping much lower to 14 °F. In January, which is usually the coldest winter month, temperatures reached 82.9 °F and only dipped as low as 29 °F. The lowest temperature recorded in February was 24 °F.
In other parts of the state, like Odessa in West Texas, average temperatures ranged between 33 °F and 61 °F. In Houston, temperatures averaged between 40 °F and 80 °F throughout December, January, and February. There was a dip in December when temperatures plummeted to 17 °F. Dallas also saw similar temperatures ranging between 30 °F and 80 °F throughout the winter months, with some colder temperatures in December. Overall, temperatures have been warmer than normal throughout the state this winter.
Animal Migration in Texas
Birds are the big attraction in spring when they migrate. Tons of different bird species head down to Latin America when the temperatures get too chilly further north, and then they return in full splendor when the warmth of spring reaches Texas. This is their time to mate and settle in.
The first birds you can spot when they start migrating are purple martins — they may even arrive before March, at the tail end of February. During March, you can spot several other species, including northern parulas, ruby-throated hummingbirds, and barn swallows. Typically, the males lead the way and settle into comfortable nesting areas. The females land soon after, taking their pick of the best place to raise their baby birds.
On occasion, a phenomenon called “fallout” may happen. This is when weather conditions are colder than usual and prevent a wide variety of birds from reaching their destinations at the expected time. When this happens, bird migrations are delayed, as they need to stop for rest and food to prepare for the next leg of their trip. As a result, birds settle in until they raise their brood and head out in the later part of summer or early fall.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Janece Flippo/Shutterstock.com
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