Climate of Texas
|It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Geography of Texas. (Discuss)|
Texas's climate varies widely, from arid in the west to humid in the east. Due to its large size, Texas is home to several different climates. Texas ranks first in tornado occurrence with an average of 139 per year. There are several distinct regions within the state which have varying climates: Northern Plains, Big Bend Country, Texas Hill Country, Piney Woods, and South Texas. Tropical cyclones can impact the state from the Gulf of Mexico, or from an overland trajectory originating in the eastern Pacific ocean. Significant floods have occurred across the state throughout history, both from tropical cyclones and from stalled weather fronts. Generally speaking, the eastern half of Texas is humid subtropical, while the western half is semi-arid (with some arid regions).
Regions of Texas
The Northern Plains's climate can best be described as semi-arid and it is prone to drought. Annually it receives anywhere between 16 to 32 inches (810 mm) of rain. Tornadoes, caused by the convergence of northern and southern prevailing winds are not uncommon, making the region part of the tornado alley. Poor land management, drought, and high wind speeds can cause large dust storms, kept to minimum in modern times, but most troublesome in the 1930s during the great depression. The panhandle region, unprotected by the warm gulf currents experiences colder winters than the other regions of Texas.
Big Bend Country
The Big Bend Country is the farthest west region in geography. It is also the driest receiving an average annual rainfall of only 16 inches (410 mm) or less. The arid climate is the main reason for desertification of the land, but overgrazing is slowly widening the land area of that desert. In the mountain areas one can see coniferous forests in a wetter and more temperate environment. Winds are strengthened as they are forced to push through canyons and valleys. In the flatter areas these winds are harvested into usable electricity.Big Bend National Park is also Texas's largest national park.
Texas Hill Country
The Texas Hill Country, or central Texas is shaped by its many rivers and hills. The climate is on the western edge of humid subtropical, with cool winters and hot summers. The vegetation is both deciduous in the river valleys, and coniferous where there is greater elevation. In a single year the region can receive up to 48 inches (1,200 mm) of rain, and flooding is common near rivers and in low lying areas.
The Piney Woods is the eastern region of Texas and is clearly in the humid subtropical climate zone. It receives the most rainfall; more than 87 inches (2,200 mm) annually in the far east. This is due to the gulf currents that carry humid air to the region, where it condenses and precipitates. The area is prone to severe thunderstorms and tornadoes when the proper conditions exist, generally in the springtime. Hurricanes also strike the region, the most disastrous of which was the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. More recently hurricane Rita pummeled the Golden Triangle of southeast Texas. The humidity of the region greatly amplifies the feeling of heat during the summer. The winters along the immediate coast are kept cool by relatively cool gulf waters, preventing temperatures from rising too high during the cold season. Dense fog can form when warm air moves over the cool shelf waters during February and March, stopping ship traffic for days on over
The region of South Texas includes the semiarid ranch country and the wetter Rio Grande Valley. Considered to be the southernmost tip of the American Great Plains region, the inland region has rainfall that is similar to that of the Northern Plains. The coastal areas are nearly warm most of the year due to currents of the Gulf of Mexico, but can get cold in winter if a strong front comes in, and sometimes even causing snow at sea level, summers are hot and humid there. Rain in the coastal region is more abundant than in the inland region, and subtropical forests line the Rio Grande River in this region. Inland, where it is drier, ranches dominate the landscape, characterized by thick spiny brush and grasslands. The winters in the inland region are cold and dry as Arctic air makes it into the region, therefore making snow a rare occurrence due to the lack of humidity in winter, and the summers are for the most part hot and dry, but at times can be humid if winds come off the warmer Gulf of Mexico. Tornadoes can occur in this region, but less frequent than in other parts of the state.
|Monthly normal high and low temperatures (°F) for various Texas cities|
Texas's position at the western end of the Gulf of Mexico also makes it very vulnerable to hurricanes. Some of the most destructive hurricanes in U.S. history have impacted Texas. A hurricane in 1875 killed approximately 400 people in Indianola, followed by another hurricane in 1886 that destroyed the town, which was at the time the most important port city in the state. This allowed Galveston to take over as the chief port city, but it was subsequently devastated by a hurricane in 1900 that killed approximately 8,000 people (possibly as many as 12,000), making it the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history. Other devastating Texas hurricanes include the 1915 Galveston Hurricane, Hurricane Audrey in 1957, which killed over 600 people, Hurricane Carla in 1961, Hurricane Beulah in 1967, Hurricane Alicia in 1983, Hurricane Rita in 2005, and Hurricane Ike in 2008.
The most serious threat from tropical cyclones in Texas residents is from flooding. The worst aspect about tropical cyclones is that the weaker they are, the more efficient they can be at producing heavy rains and catastrophic flooding. Systems with sprawling circulations, such as Hurricane Beulah, also tend to make good rainmakers. Slow moving systems, such as Tropical Storm Amelia (1978) also can produce significant rainfall over the Lone Star State. Tropical cyclones from both the eastern Pacific and Atlantic Basins can impact the Lone Star State.
Texas emits the most greenhouse gases in the US. The state's annual carbon dioxide emissions are nearly 1.5 trillion pounds (680 billion kg). Texas would be the world's seventh-largest producer of greenhouse gases if it were an independent nation. The primary factors in Texas's greenhouse gas emissions is the state's large number of coal power plants and the state's refining and manufacturing industries which provides the bulk of the United States's petroleum products.
- ↑ nooa.gov National Climatic Data Center. Retrieved on October 24, 2006.
- ↑ Weather from the Handbook of Texas Online Accessed 2008-07-22
- ↑ Blake, Eric S.; Rappaport, Edward N., Landsea, Christopher W. (2007-04-15). "The Deadliest, Costliest, and Most Intense United States Tropical Cyclones From 1851 to 2006" (PDF). National Weather Service: National Hurricane Center. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pdf/NWS-TPC-5.pdf. Retrieved 2008-10-02.
- ↑ David M. Roth. A Brief Climatology of Tropical Cyclones in Texas (continued). Retrieved on 2008-03-05.
- ↑ David M. Roth. Tropical Storm Amelia (1978) Rainfall Page. Retrieved on 2008-03-05.
- ↑ David M. Roth. Tropical cyclones affecting the Gulf Coast. Retrieved on 2008-03-07.
- ↑ Borenstein, Seth (04-06-2007). "Blame Coal: Texas Leads in Overall Emissions". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2007-06-04-state-emissions_N.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-06.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 "Texas No. 1 producer of greenhouse gases". Associated Press (Dallas Morning News). 2007-06-03. http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/texassouthwest/stories/060307dnnatemissions.3c1df3a.html. Retrieved 2008-06-11.
- ↑ MSN City Guides. "Five Cities that Need help Getting Green". http://cityguides.msn.com/citylife/greenslideshow.aspx?cp-documentid=4848635&imageindex=4.
- ↑ Heinrich Boll Foundation North America (2003-12). "Approaches, Challenges, Potentials: Renewable Energy and Climate Change Policies in U.S. States". http://www.cleanenergyfunds.org/international/downloads/RE_Publication_Online.pdf.