Houston 101

Five Things to Expect From Houston Weather in the Spring

Texas does spring right, particularly in the central part of the state.
Texas does spring right, particularly in the central part of the state. Photo by Jeff P via CC
There is a joke often made about Houston that we really only have two seasons. There's one season just called "hot" and another called "less hot." That's an exaggeration, of course, but we don't have the kinds of changes you see in other parts of the country. There aren't the hard demarkations between summer and fall or winter and spring like you see up north. The leaves don't really change color here so much as they go from green and on trees to brown on the ground, typically within like a week.

As we move into spring, if you aren't from here or are unfamiliar with the climate, we thought a primer might be in order. There are some really wonderful things about the second quarter of the year in Houston and a few we'd rather forget. Either way, you'll be ready.

Wildflowers return.

Texas has an abundance of stunning wildflowers including our state flower, the bluebonnet. They begin to emerge in February and hit their peak in March. If you drive along 290 toward Austin, you'll see scores of folks and their kids in their Easter best sprawling out in blue fields near Brenham taking photos. Of course, you aren't supposed to step on or otherwise disturb nature's beauty, but it's once a year.

In Houston, the seeds of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush, among others, have been liberally scattered along area bayous and in some fields. As a result, there is now hearty growth of color throughout the city beginning right about now. But, it only lasts a few weeks, so take advantage while you can.

Allergies worsen.

Autumn can be a tough season for those who suffer from allergies, but spring is perhaps the worst. Already this year you may have noticed a yellow dust on your car or gathered at the edges of water puddles in the street. That's pollen my friend and lots of it. Depending on how much rain we get — though that dredges up mold spores — it can wash away some of that fairly quickly...or not.

We don't get cedar fever here like they do in Austin, but ragweed, tree pollen and others can really do a number on your sinuses. Get some Zyrtec and Flonase and hang in there.

Fluxuating temperatures.

In the fall, there is an anticipation of winter. After a long summer of heat and humidity, the first breath of fresh air from a seasonal cool front is like God cranking up the a/c outdoors. Spring is a little different. While we all tolerate the fits and starts of winter, most of us aren't really thankful that heat is around the corner. People who have moved here from northern climbs where freezing temperatures last until May are thrilled. Those of us from here are ambivalent.

One thing is certain, one day you'll wear shorts and the next day a winter coat for a while. Some days will be absolutely beautiful and mild while others could be downright cold or sweat-worthy. It will grow more and more warm as we push towards May, but don't be shocked if you get a chilly day in April or an 80-degree day in February. In fact, we've already had the latter.

April showers and all that.

Houston gets more rainfall every year than almost any other major city. Some of that comes in big rain storms, often tropical in nature. In the spring, it is pretty common for disturbed weather to stir up some thunderstorms and plenty of rain, especially in April and May. It's still far more likely that big storms and flooding will occur in the summer months, but the Memorial Day floods of 2015 dropped 11 inches of rain on parts of the city causing massive flooding.

Still, the biggest threat is tropical weather — hurricanes and other tropical disturbances — which don't come around until June at the earliest, so there is still plenty of time to worry about that.

Summer is on you sooner than you think.

We've heard that winter gets on you quick up north. One day you feel a slight chill in the air and the next day you are deep into a polar vortex. The same is true in Houston, but in the other direction. You think summer is still three or four months away, but the first day that hits 85 with 70 percent humidity, you'll reconsider. Fortunately, the really brutal heat is still a ways off. By the time we get to July and August, we'll be begging for cool March mornings instead of the steam bath we will find ourselves in.

So, enjoy springtime in Houston while it lasts. You'll be ready for fall again soon enough.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke