The latest cold spell has resulted in an epidemic of frozen pipes around Galveston County. The mercury dipped to 25 degrees in Galveston and 20 degrees in League City, certainly giving the area a hard freeze and the coldest temperatures in Galveston since a 25-degree low on Feb. 2, 2011.

While the 2011 freeze brought a few reports of frozen pipes, the number was far less than with this freeze despite the fact that the 2011 cold spell had four consecutive mornings with freezing low temperatures in Galveston as opposed to three with our current cold spell. So, the question is why was this freeze so much more destructive both to pipes and vegetation?

The answer lies in the duration of freezing temperatures. In 2011, the temperatures climbed above freezing each day during the event. Our latest freeze resulted in more than 21 consecutive hours where the temperature stayed below freezing in Galveston and over 24 consecutive hours on the mainland.

This gave pipes plenty of time to freeze and no real opportunity to thaw. Usually the duration of freezing conditions is as, if not more, important than how low the temperature actually dips.

Meanwhile, looking ahead, the good news is that both the major intermediate forecast models are keeping freezing temperatures away through the end of the month and into the beginning of February. Currently, an upper-level trough and a coastal surface trough are bringing showers to Southeast Texas and over the Gulf of Mexico.

While another cold front is expected to reach the coast by late Sunday or early Monday, with showers and thunderstorms ahead and along the frontal boundary, the air with this next front is Pacific and origin and will only bring us back to normal conditions. And, the Climate Prediction Center is projecting normal to above normal temperatures and wetter than normal weather through early February.

I do not think that anyone will miss our recent cold spells, which have temperatures in League City running 8.2 degrees below normal for the month and 7.5 degrees below normal in Galveston.

Stan Blazyk is a life-long weather enthusiast, long-time Galveston resident and author of "A Century of Galveston Weather." He has written the weather blog for the Galveston County Daily News for more than a decade.

(3) comments

David Schuler

Snow before hurricane, or hurricane before snow? Either way, lived here since '52, watched it happen far too many times not to suspect some weak correlation. Impress your friends and family using this tried and true prediction; works every time!

Stan Blazyk Staff
Stan Blazyk

It is an issue I have been puzzling with for some time. The problem in checking out that theory is that you have to be consistent with the parameters you use in making the case. For instance, do you count tropical storms and depressions? Do you count only storms that made landfall within a 100 miles of Galveston, which would eliminate Hurricances Carla and the 1916 Corpus Christi Hurricane, both of which had significant impacts on the Galveston area? Also, you have to account for the fact that there was no snow or sleet in the winter's preceding or following the 1900 and 1915 hurricanes, as well as the 1943 hurricane, all of which were major storms making landfall near Galveston. While I have not had the time to look at this, I cannot rule out the fact that there may be a higher chance for such events following a hurricane, even though there are a number of times when this does not happen. Still, I may investigate further when time permits.

mark niles

I have heard several locals make this correlation (Hurricane/snow). I don't think there is any scientific basis for this. I believe it is more psychological, people remember hurricanes and they remember snow, so when both occur in same year it sticks in their memory.

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