Here are the odds for a March freeze in Houston

CREDIT: Dsfields on click2pins

Today’s cover pin features our cold mid-January winter snap when a mix of winter precip fell. Since then, it’s been warm sailing so to speak (33° has been our coldest morning this month at Bush/IAH) and last week I blogged about whether we might see another freeze this season. If you’ve been around a while, then you will recall the early 70s when April 7, 1971 dropped to 32° and April 10, 1973 fell to 31°. That April 10th date is our record for having a freezing morning. Thus the advice “Never plant before Easter” was born. After all, two light freezes in three years? In April?

But that was then, back when, and this is now anyhow. So I took a data dive into March freezes the past 30 years to see just what the odds look like. Thirty years is considered a pretty good bar for climate data. Interestingly, 2002 is a stand out: February 27, 28 and March 3-5 had lows in the twenties. At Bush the temperature dropped to 22° March 4, 2002! But as far as “hard freezes” defined as 24° or below, that is the ONLY March hard freeze since 1994.

All the other March freezes have been light freezes and, honestly, there have not been that many of them. Since that 2002 winter snap, only five more March months have fallen to freezing or below:

March 3, 2013 31°

March 3, 2014 27° and March 4, 2014 31°

March 6, 2015 30°

March 5/6, 2019 fell to 30° and 32°

March 12/13, 2022 both dropped to 32°

So including 2002, only six years since the year 2000 have had March freezes. Statistically, that’s 26% of the time, or about a quarter, so a 1 in 4 chance.

If we throw in 1994-1999, the numbers go up: 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998 and 1999 all had March freezes between 28-32°. That brings our 30 year statistic to 36% or about a third of the time. A 1 in 3 chance.

Here’s another salient fact: the LATEST March freeze in the last 30 years was 32° on March 15, 1999. So if we get to the middle of March without a freeze, then statistically we are home free. Right now the American Model runs through March 6th and shows few temperatures below the mid 40s:

CREDIT: American Model tropicaltidbits.com

We certainly have a warm spell this week as highs move toward the low 80s by Thursday!

RELATED: STORM TRACKER 2 PLANNING FORECAST

Oh, and those April stats? We still drop into the upper 30s now and then in April, but those light freezes in April seem to be a thing of the past. We’ll keep watching and tracking the Ides of March!

Have a great week!

Frank

Email me with questions and comments.


About the Author

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with four decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.