Almost every type of weather condition is experienced in Texas. In the west, one-third of the state experiences cold winters and low humidity. The eastern two-thirds of the state swelters in sub-tropical weather with occasional cold fronts in the winter. The driest area of the state is the mountainous region west of the Pecos River, known as the Trans-Pecos. The wettest region is in the southeast. Summer-like conditions extend from mid-April through October. Blistering heat with relentless sunshine is common during this season. Extreme weather conditions include droughts, blizzards, thunderstorms, hail, tornadoes and, along Texas's Gulf Coast, hurricanes.
In winter, the southern reaches of Texas rarely see temperatures below freezing. Temperatures in January can soar above 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the Rio Grande Valley. The upper half of the state experiences yearly snowfall with the greatest amount in the Texas panhandle to the north. Blizzard conditions can sweep over these high plains, closing highways with fierce wind and snow. The winter months tend to be the driest for the whole state except for East Texas.
Texans experience intense heat throughout in the summer. Most Texans must turn on their air conditioners during these months.Triple-digit heat is not uncommon during the hottest months, especially in the southernmost parts of the state. Only on Galveston Island and the highest elevations of the Trans-Pecos do temperatures stay under 90 degrees during the day. East Texas experiences its driest months in June and July where high humidity keeps night temperatures at 75 degrees or higher.
Thunderstorms bring powerful downdrafts, dangerous lightning and damaging hail and can happen in Texas at any time of year. Flash flooding is another real threat of these storms. Squall lines of thunderstorms are most common in the spring. When spring cold fronts dip south and encounter the warm moist air from the Gulf, thunderstorms form along the line of the advancing front. East Texas receives 60 thunderstorm days per year. North Texas receives the worst hail, with baseball-sized hunks of ice a common occurence.
Texans sight about 130 tornadoes every year. These storms bring extreme hazards; a few hundred people are injured annually in tornadoes and another dozen are killed. Tornadoes have ripped through Texas city centers, notably Waco, Lubbock and Wichita Falls. The most likely time to see a tornado in Texas is March, April and May.
One major weather condition threats Texas every year. The Texas Gulf Coast is in the line of fire of deadly hurricanes from mid-summer through fall. These monster storms come ashore with torrential rains, powerful winds and a deadly storm surge. Hurricanes come ashore in Texas about every three years, on average. As of 2011, the deadliest hurricane to hit the state was in 1900. More 8,000 people were killed on Galveston Island when the hurricane's storm surge covered the entire land surface of the island.
All of Texas is susceptible to drought. Each decade of its history has brought a period of severe drought to the state. Streams dry up, crops die and brush fires rage in this challenging weather condition. Some droughts have plagued Texas in excess of five years. Texas droughts tend to end because of the torrential rain associated with tropical storms.