Winter, it is coming

Yes, Houston set a record high temperature for today, with the mercury hitting 84 degrees at Bush Intercontinental Airport. And yes, a cold front is now working its way into Houston that will provide some relief from the heat and humidity for the rest of this week. But that is not what I’m talking about. For this post I am referring to actual winter, as in…







Prepare yourself for the the memes, because they’re coming along with what appears to be this season’s first real Arctic front in about eight or nine days. Houston might even record its first freeze of the season, but there remains a fair about of uncertainty regarding that.

First freeze, when?

Let’s start with a bit of climatology. The following graphic shows when, historically, Houston can typically expect to record their first 32-degree or lower temperature of the season.

Houston first freeze climatology. (Brian Brettschneider)

Houston first freeze climatology. (Brian Brettschneider)

The basic takeaway here is that for northern parts of the region, say from Bush IAH north through Montgomery County, the first freeze often comes by or before the beginning of December. For central parts of Houston, the average date is closer to the middle of the month, and often times coastal areas wait until January—if ever during a given winter.

Arctic blast

Right now we’ve got medium confidence that after all of the rainy mess this weekend, discussed in this morning’s report, we’ll see a considerably stronger cold front move into Houston next week. The timing for a weather event that’s roughly eight days from now will always be somewhat dubious, but right now I’d peg its arrival at “Wednesday-ish.”

If that’s the case we could probably expect the coldest weather on “Friday-ish.” So how cold? I suspect most of the region will be in the 30s, possibly on Thursday and likely on Friday morning. And a freeze? Here’s the probability forecast (for the morning of Friday, Dec. 9) from the 12z GFS model run that came out around noon on Tuesday.


Probability of a temperature equal to or less than 32 degrees. (Weather Bell)


This map shows about 40 percent probability for a freeze on Friday morning in central Houston, with a slightly higher probability for areas north of downtown Houston.

Honestly, we’re talking about a 10-day forecast here so let’s not get too picky about the details. We can have reasonable confidence that it’s going to get quite cold around these parts in about nine days. Moreover, this may lead to the first freeze of the season for rural areas, and potentially in the city, too.

Posted at 2:50pm CT on Tuesday by Eric

15 thoughts on “Winter, it is coming

  1. Blackhawks Fan

    OMG!!! It’s going to FREEZE!!!

    Close down all schools for a week.
    TV anchors need to tell everyone to stay home from work that day.
    The mayor will tell everyone to stay off the roads to keep them clear for first responders.
    A run on the stores for bottled water, space heaters, beer, and Oreos.
    Yada, yada, yada….

    Seriously, I don’t think half the people in this city have any concept of what a real winter is like. Houston doesn’t have winter. I think maybe once or twice in my 30+ years here it’s even gotten below 10F.

  2. Johnny

    We didn’t have a freeze all last year here in Sugar Land, at least in my yard. My tomatoes grew all winter and I ate fresh tomatoes through January.

    This fall’s crop is really getting cranked up now, too, but I’m not holding my breath that it will last again this year.

    1. Blackhawks fan

      Agreed. I don’t think we had a freeze in the Ellington/Clear Lake area last year either and maybe not the year before.

  3. Katie

    I love the humor you inject in these posts. It makes learning about weather SNOW MUCH FUN. 🙂

    1. Eric

      Cotton station was a station for cotton … in some location near or in downtown Houston. Not much more is known than that.

  4. Robert

    I’ll believe it when it gets here. This has been a disgustingly warm and humid November – – I wonder how it will rank in the records?

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