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How cold does it get in Houston? 

How cold does it get in Houston

Big, bold, and burning are usually synonymous Houston. Visitors flock to Houston for its warm climate, beautiful beaches, and lively cultural scene. 

However, what many people may not realize is that Houston can also get surprisingly cold. 

While it may not experience the extreme cold temperatures of northern states, Houston can still face chilly weather that can come as a shock to residents and visitors alike. 

According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, temperatures in Houston can drop to 30 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) or even lower between November to March.

What are winters in Houston like?

What are winters in Houston like
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Houston, Texas is known for its hot and humid summers, but what about its winters? 

Although it may not be the first city that comes to mind when you think of winter destinations, Houston’s winter season offers a pleasant break from the sweltering heat and a chance to enjoy some cooler temperatures.

Winter in Houston lasts from November to February, with January typically being the coldest month of the year. The average temperature during this time ranges from 50°F (10°C) to 63°F (17°C). 

This makes it a relatively mild winter season compared to other parts of the United States. This means that you won’t have to bundle up in layers upon layers of clothing, but you’ll still need a light jacket or sweater to stay comfortable.

The table below shows the average temperature in Houston over the last 30 years from 1991 to 2020, with the winter months in bold. 

January 1886446
Source: NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information

How cold is Houston compared to the other cities in the USA?

How cold is Houston compared to the other cities in the USA
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According to the statistics in the table below, we can see that Houston’s winter temperatures are relatively mild when compared to the other cities on the list. 

Houston’s winter weather is significantly warmer than that of New York City and Chicago, which are known for their cold and snowy winters.

In contrast, Houston’s winters are similar to L.A. and Miami, which are known for their mild and sunny winters. Houston’s winter temperatures are only slightly cooler, and residents can generally expect sunny and mild weather throughout the winter months.

Denver, on the other hand, is known for its cold and snowy winters, and its winter temperatures are significantly colder than those of Houston. 

CityDec (F)Dec (C )Jan (F)Jan (C )Feb (F)Feb(C )
New York393.9330.6372.8
Los Angeles6618.968206820
Source: NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information

Lowest Recorded Temperatures in Houston

Lowest Recorded Temperatures in Houston
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Houston is known for its hot and humid climate, with summer temperatures regularly exceeding 90°F (32°C).  But, the city has experienced its fair share of cold weather over, with several notable instances of below-freezing temperatures and even snow.

Listed below are other significant winters in Houston with record lows in temperatures from Current Results. A complete list of all lowest temperatures every year from 1921 to 2009 can be found here

5°F (-15°C) 

5°F (-15°C)
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On February 12, 1930, Houston experienced its lowest recorded temperature in history, plunging to a bone-chilling 5°F (-15°C). This dramatic drop in temperature was from a powerful cold front that swept across Texas and brought freezing temperatures with it.

The effects of the cold snap were felt throughout Houston, causing significant damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure. Many residents were forced to find creative ways to stay warm, like huddling around fires or using hot water bottles to keep warm. 

Many homes were not equipped with proper insulation, heating systems, or insulation to withstand such extreme temperatures. There was also a significant impact on the local agriculture industry, causing widespread crop damage and livestock losses. 

Despite the severe impact of the cold snap, Houston managed to recover relatively quickly. Warmer temperatures returned to the area within a few days, and the city began to repair the damage caused by the cold weather. 

24°F (-4°C) 

24°F (-4°C)
Image Source: Houston Chronicles Website

On December 7, 2017, Houston experienced its first significant snowfall in several years. The winter storm, named Winter Storm Benji, brought frigid temperatures and snow to the city. 

The temperature dropped to a low of 24°F (-4°C), traffic problems, flight cancellations, and minute panic. The snowfall was significant, with some areas of Houston receiving up to 3 inches (7.6 cm) of snow. 

The snow and ice caused treacherous driving conditions and led to several car accidents. Many Houston residents were excited about the rare snowfall.

13°F (-11°C) 

13°F (-11°C)
Image Source: National Weather Service Website

In February 2021, a winter storm hit Texas, causing significant damage and power outages throughout the state. Houston wasn’t spared, with temperatures dropping to a low of 13°F (-11°C) and significant snow and ice accumulation throughout the city. 

The storm caused widespread power outages, leaving many Houston residents without heat or electricity for several days. 

The city has been working to improve its infrastructure and prepare for future extreme weather events to prevent similar damage in the future.

Other Notable Drops in Temperature 

December 23, 19896°F -14°CSchool closures and flight cancellations
January 19, 19407°F-14°CFrozen pipes and other weather-related damage
December 23, 19839°F -13°CDamage to infrastructure around the city
February 12, 189913°F-11°CRoad closures
Date Source: Current Results Website

What makes Houston cold?

What makes Houston cold
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Houston’s geographical location like its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and its low latitude contribute to the cold winters the city experiences. Environmental factors like global warming also add to why Houston can get low temperatures.

Houston’s location on the Gulf of Mexico makes it vulnerable to cold fronts that move southward from the northern part of the country. They can bring frigid air masses that cause temperatures to drop rapidly and wintry precipitation such as snow, sleet, and freezing rain.

Houston’s location at a relatively low latitude means that it receives less direct sunlight during the winter months compared to cities located further north. This can contribute to colder temperatures and shorter daylight hours during the winter months.

The polar vortex is a cold low-pressure area that sits over the Arctic region. Climate change has caused the vortex to become weaker and more unstable, leading to more frequent outbreaks of cold air in Southern regions like Houston. 

How can you deal with the cold in Houston?  

How can you deal with the cold in Houston
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Houston may not be known for its harsh winter weather, but it’s important to take steps to stay warm and safe during colder temperatures. Here are some tips to help you prepare:

  • Dress warm: While heavy parkas and insulated snow boots might be necessary in colder climates, they may be too bulky and heavy for Houston’s mild winters. Instead, opt for lighter-weight jackets, hats, and gloves.
  • Protect your home:  Seal any drafts around windows and doors, and consider installing weather stripping to keep cold air out. Insulating your pipes can also help prevent them from freezing and bursting.
  • Use heating sources: Space heaters and fireplaces can be good ways to provide targeted warmth in specific areas of your home. 
  • Drive carefully: Drive slowly and keep a safe distance from others. If conditions are too risky, pull over and wait it out. Be aware of weather-related road closures or hazards. 
  • Bring pets inside: Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can cause hypothermia and frostbite. If your pet stays outside, an elevated, insulated and enclosed shelter with blankets or a heated bed can help them stay comfortable.
  • Make an emergency kit: You should have enough supplies to sustain you and your family for at least three days, including food, water, a first aid kit, medication, a battery-powered radio, and a flashlight with extra batteries.
  • Stay Informed: Check local news and weather reports for updates on any potential cold snaps or winter storms. 
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