National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
December Severe Weather Events
for Southeast Texas
2012 25th On Christmas Day, strong to severe thunderstorms developed along a warm front that was lifting northward through the area. One of those storms produced an EF-3 tornado near Pennington (Trinity County). The worst of the damage was along Highway 287, or one mile north of Pennington. An agricultural feed store and a restaurant were completely destroyed with the debris scattered off toward the east in a field. There was severe damage to several homes and trailers along the path of the tornado that was indicative of either EF-1 or EF-2 scale damage. In addition to the tornado, thunderstorm winds gusts estimated as high as 75 mph downed trees and damaged buildings near Lovelady (Houston County), near Madisonville (Madison County), near Splendora (Montgomery County), near Cleveland (Liberty County) and near Kingwood (Harris County). One fatality in the Houston area (Harris County) was attributed to strong winds behind the storm system when a large tree fell on a man clearing debris off a road.
2009 4th This snowfall event became Southeast Texas's earliest snowfall to date (breaking records that were established just one year before in 2008) when moderate to heavy snows fell across portions of the area. Preceding the snow event, a strong upper level storm system moved across Texas, and a very cold Canadian air mass behind the disturbance descended as far south as the coastal regions of southern Texas. An upper level disturbance, rounding the base of a southwestern Texas upper level trough, provided the lift needed to generate precipitation that fell within the arctic air mass. Light rain first developed over the Coastal Bend region and expanded northeastward in the Houston-Galveston area. Snow and sleet first fell over Jackson, Matagorda, Fort Bend, northern Brazoria and western Harris counties. A 1 to 3 inch snow band accumulated near the Highway 59 corridor. Locations to the north and west of a line from Columbus to Conroe experienced totals generally under 1 inch, while the heaviest snows totaling 3 to 5 inches fell along a southwest to northeast line across Wharton, Fort Bend and northern Brazoria counties.
2008 10th-11th A cold upper level low pressure system moved across southeast Texas on the 10th and brought a band of moderate snow across the region in the afternoon and evening hours. High temperatures on the 9th were in the upper 70s to around 80 degrees. A cold front rolled through the area during the evening of the 9th and temperatures fell rapidly into the middle 30’s over the north and into the middle 40’s over the south. Enough moisture lingered behind the cold front to produce precipitation once the upper level low pressure system neared the area. Light snow fell during the early morning hours on the 10th over parts of Washington, Burleson and Brazos counties. Snow redeveloped in the afternoon when the upper level low moved into the Houston area. Some areas across the region experienced a rain and sleet mixture which changed to snow by early evening. Snowfall on the 10th was heaviest between 5 PM and 10 PM with the heaviest totals east of I-45. Snow amounts ranged from a trace over parts of western Wharton, Matagorda and Brazoria counties to as much as 5.5 inches in eastern Chambers County. An inch of snow fell on Galveston Island with generally an inch to two inches over the inland portions of Galveston County. The heaviest band of snow fell from Chambers County through Liberty County into Polk County. Looking back through the weather records (through 2008), it appears that this is the earliest accumulating snow that has affected southeast Texas. College Station's 2.0 inches beat the previous earliest accumulating snow total of 0.5 inches and that occurred on December 11, 1945. The earliest 1.0 inch or greater snowfall occurred on December 20, 1929, when 2.0 inches was measured. For Houston Intercontinental Airport, 1.4 inches of snow was recorded. The earliest accumulating snow event for the Houston area was December 10, 1944, when a tenth of an inch of snow was measured at the downtown Houston weather office. The earliest one inch of snow occurred on December 22, 1989, when 1.7 inches of snow was measured. Even Galveston received 1.0 inch of snow on this day. This is the earliest snowfall recorded for the Island. Previous to this new record, 1.0 inch snowfall or greater occurred on December 22, 1989, when an inch of snow was measured. Prior to this event, the last accumulating snow over the southern half of the region occurred on Christmas Eve 2004 when six to ten inches fell south of an Edna to Alvin to Galveston line. The last accumulating snow at Intercontinental Airport occurred on February 1, 1994, with a total of a tenth of an inch. The last time any snow fell in the Houston area occurred on Christmas Eve 2004 when scattered snow showers clipped the city.
2006 29th An EF-1 tornado caused damage and injuries from south of North Zulch to the east northeast of Normangee (Madison County). Three people were injured when a large oak tree fell through a home at Fair Oaks Ranch on Old Spanish Road. There was also significant damage to a chicken farm east of Normangee that killed over 15,000 chickens. There were numerous trees down, several damaged roofs, and downed power lines along with a power support tower. The most significant damage occurred between Strawther Road and the Willowhold Community with many damaged roofs and downed trees. A horse ranch also received a large amount of damage in the community of Mecca. Another EF-1 tornadomoved south to north across the central College Station area (Brazos County) and produced a damage path that was five miles long and at times 200 yards wide. The majority of the damage was concentrated along the Harvey Mitchell Parkway with several businesses and an apartment complex receiving significant damage.
2002 23rd The combination of abundant low level moisture, a strong upper level storm system and a warm front helped to produce nearly fifty severe weather events across southeast Texas, including tornadoes in Colorado, Burleson, Washington, Brazos, Grimes, Madison, Montgomery, and San Jacinto counties. Large hail (up to 1.75 inches) was observed mainly north and west of the Houston area. Locations from Houston to the beaches felt the brunt of this event in the evening when a squall line rapidly moved eastward across Harris County and toward the coast and produced 60 to 80 mph winds.
2001 16th An F2 tornado touched down at the Point Lookout West Estates near Point Blank (San Jacinto County). There were two minor injuries. 15 homes were destroyed, with 15 to 20 other homes receiving major damage. Trees and power lines were also downed. Total property damage was around $2.5 million.
2000 13th A storm system combined with cold air at the surface led to 1/2 to 1 inch ice accumulationgenerally north of a line from Columbus to Navasota to Huntsville to Groveton. Precipitation fell mostly in the form of freezing rain, with sleet occuring in heavier thunderstorms. Most acumulation was on trees and powerlines, with numerous trees and powerlines downed. Heaviest icing occured in Burleson, Brazos and Washington counties. The SH 36 bridge between Burleson and Washington counties was closed with icing reported on FM 3058 and FM 166 in Burleson County. The ice storm caused numerous power outages with most of the city of Brenham without power for over a 12 hour period. Total property damage was around $1 million.
1998 22nd-23rd Freezing rain and drizzle was reported over northwestern portions of southeast Texas.
1997 3rd, 23rd Severe storms downed trees and powerlines. On the 3rd, a west to east moving storm with wind gusts as high as 90 mph caused damage from Pasadena to Baytown to Anahuac in Harris and Chambers counties. On the 23rd, wind gusts up to 60 mph were reported across nearly all of Southeast Texas. 1.75 inch hail was reported in Navasota (Grimes county). Total property damage was nearly $150,000.
1995 17-18th Severe thunderstorms produced damaging winds, hail up to 1.5 inches, several F0 tornadoes, and flash flooding across most of southeast Texas. There were 2 injuries but no deaths. Damage was estimated to be around 3 million dollars.
1994 15-16th Heavy rains producing from 4 to 6 inches of rain caused flooding in Madison, Brazos, Burleson, Houston, Walker, Trinity and Polk counties. There were no deaths but total damage amounts were around 9 million dollars.
1992 9th Very strong thunderstorm winds caused a roof collapse at a Harris county day care center.
1991 18th, 21st Extremely heavy rains produced from 12 to 16 inches of rain which caused flash floodingin south central and southeast Texas. Many rivers rose to record levels during this event. There were 11 deaths attributed to the flooding with total damage amounts of 15 million dollars.
1989 11-24th A severe cold wave gripped southeast Texas for these two weeks. Temperatures dipped into the single digits across all of southeast Texas and snow was even recorded at Galveston!