What's the Weather Like in Texas?
Because of its massive size and far-flung borders, Texas has one of the most diverse climates of any U.S. state. There's no one-size-fits-all advice for weather preparedness in Texas, where weather events range from hurricanes to dust storms.
The Lone Star State spans nearly 270,000 square miles that include swamps, deserts, plains, mountains, one-horse towns and massive urban centers. Before you can even think about adjusting to your new Texas climate, you'll need to narrow your destination down to one of the state's 10 climate divisions.
Climates in Texas
The National Climatic Data Center has identified 10 distinct climate divisions in Texas, based on characteristics like temperature, humidity and rainfall data. Those divisions are:
- Division 1 -- High Plains: Continental steppe or semi-arid savanna in Northwest Texas. Summer highs in the low 90s, winter lows in the low 20s. Includes Amarillo and Lubbock.
- Division 2 -- Low Rolling Plains: Sub-tropical steppe or semi-arid savanna near Texas' northern central border. Summer highs in the high 90s, winter lows in the low 30s. Includes Wichita Falls and Abilene.
- Division 3 -- Cross Timbers: Sub-tropical, sub-humid, mixed savanna and woodlands in North Central Texas. Summer highs in the high 90s, winter lows in the mid 30s. Includes Dallas and Fort Worth.
- Division 4 -- Piney Woods: Sub-tropical, humid, mixed evergreen-deciduous forestland in Northeastern Texas. Summer highs in the mid 90s, winter lows in the mid 30s. Includes College Station.
- Division 5 -- Trans-Pecos: Except for the slightly wetter high desert mountainous areas, subtropical arid desert in West Texas. Summer highs in the high 90s, winter lows in the low 30s, with cooler temperatures in the more mountainous areas. Includes El Paso.
- Division 6 -- Edwards Plateau: Sub-tropical steppe or semi-arid brushland and savanna in the central and western parts of the state. Summer highs in the mid 90s, winter lows in the low 30s. This largely rural district includes San Angelo.
- Division 7 -- Post Oak Savanna: Sub-tropical, subhumid, mixed prairie, savanna, and woodlands in Southeast Texas. Summer highs in the mid 90s, winter lows in the low 40s. Includes Austin, San Antonio and Corpus Christi.
- Division 8 -- Gulf Coastal Plains: Sub-tropical, humid, marine prairies and marshes along the Southeast Texas Coast. Summer highs in the high 90s, winter lows in the mid 40s. Includes Houston and Beaumont.
- Division 9 -- South Texas Plains: Sub-tropical steppe or semi-arid brushland in South Texas. Summer highs in the low 100s, winter lows in the mid 40s. Includes Laredo.
- Division 10 -- Lower Rio Grande Valley: Sub-tropical, sub-humid, marine area in the southern tip of Texas. Summer highs in the low 90s, winter lows in the low 50s. Includes Brownsville.
Severe Weather in Texas
Texas is a Southern state, but don't let that fool you into under-preparing for cold weather. Roughly the whole northern half of the state experiences temperatures near or below freezing at some point in the winter, and snow and ice storms are possible wherever temperatures drop that low. If you're moving to the panhandle region, it wouldn't be a bad idea to keep a snow shovel and some sidewalk salt in the garage.
Summertime high temperatures and sunshine can be unrelenting throughout the state, compounded by high humidity in the Southeast. During the hottest months, it's important to moderate outdoor activity and wear sunscreen.
Severe storms in Texas are just as diverse. Thunderstorms are possible all across the state, and the Southeastern Coast is battered on an almost annual basis by tropical storms and hurricanes. Texas is also one of the most active states for tornadoes. The most active months for tornadoes are April, May and June, and they occur throughout the state, though less often in West and Southwest Texas.
Another severe weather event that may be unfamiliar to Texas newcomers is the dust storm. Dust storms are most common from West Texas to the panhandle region, and pose serious dangers to driving visibility and to people with respiratory conditions.
To be ready for all of these severe weather situations, it's a good idea to sign up for a weather app that offers severe weather alerts.
Staying Comfortable Year-Round
Most of the state sees hot summer highs, yet even the sticky swampland of Southeast Texas gets chilly on winter nights. Unless you live near the southernmost tip of the state, you should expect to need both air conditioning and heat to get through the year.
Just how much you'll spend on each varies significantly from one region to the next, so it's helpful to look into local weather data for your Texas destination to see how temperatures vary throughout the year.
The best way to prepare your new home for energy-efficient heating and cooling depends on the region, as well. When it comes to recommended insulation levels, for example, Central Texas is in a different category from both Southeast Texas and much of the panhandle. And in West Texas, the arid climate can make it a good idea to protect your home and health with a whole-home humidifier, whereas dehumidifiers are more common in the Southeast.
Expect Higher Energy Bills in Summer
In the warmer regions of Texas, what passes for a mild summer can still put a significant months-long strain on your air conditioner. The warmest months are likely to be the ones in which you spend the most on electricity. But summertime can bring higher energy bills in more ways than one, especially if the summer is hotter than average. Higher temperatures mean everyone in the state is using more energy to keep cool, which puts stress on the massive generators that create electricity. The increased energy load leads to more generators being operated at peak capacity, which in turn leads to more maintenance and higher costs. So not only are you consuming more electricity in the summer, you may be paying more per kilowatt-hour.
There are lots of ways you can fight back against this seasonal surge. Check out Direct Energy's summer energy saving tips and see how you can save more without sacrificing comfort or convenience.
Wherever your travels take you in Texas, a different climate is just a couple hundred miles away. Get to know your new climate district and what it means for your local weather and year-round comfort.