Future Trends of Extreme Weather in Texas

New research led by Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon and supported by Texas 2036 finds that Texas is vulnerable to a wide range of natural hazards, most of which are associated with weather and climate events.

  • The number of 100-degree days has more than doubled over the past 40 years and could nearly double again by 2036.
  • The expected average temperature in 2036 will be about 3 degrees warmer than the average over the last half of the last century – and Texans should expect extreme monthly summertime temperature trends to increase.
  • Extreme rainfall has become more frequent and severe and is expected to worsen. As a result, there will be a significant increase in urban flooding — as much as 30-50% more than occurred over the last half of the 20th century.
  • Hurricane intensity is expected to increase significantly. Due to sea level rise, the risk of hurricane storm surge in some places along the Texas Gulf Coast may in 2050 be twice as high as it was around 1900.
  • Texas faces increased drought severity, as higher temperatures increase evaporation rates.
  • Areas such as East Texas are at increased risk for wildfires.

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    Key Data

    Average Temperature Trend, 1975-2020

    Average Temperature Trend, 1975-2020

    The rate of temperature increase in Texas since 1975 is 0.61ºF per decade. The global trend since 1975 is 0.36ºF per decade.

    Average Daily Maximum Temperature, Averaged Across Texas

    Average Daily Maximum Temperature, Averaged Across Texas

    Texas temperatures climbed slightly during the early part of the 20th century, declined somewhat until the 1970s, and rose thereafter.

    Average annual number of 100 degree days

    Average Annual Number of 100°F Days

    Over the past 45 years, the linear trend shows an approximate doubling of the number of triple-digit days across the state.

    Overall Precipitation Trend, 1895-2020

    Overall Precipitation Trend, 1895-2020

    Rainfall amounts increase from west to east, with the southeast corner of the state near Beaumont averaging over eight times the annual rainfall of some areas near El Paso.

    Mean Palmer Drought Severity Index Drought Intensity, Averaged Across Texas

    Mean Palmer Drought Severity Index Drought Intensity, Averaged Across Texas

    Statewide annual cumulative drought severity, assessed using the Palmer Drought Severity Index which includes the effect of temperature on dryness.

    Stream Gauge Data

    Number of examined stream gauges exhibiting no statistically significant trends, downward trends, and upwards trends in peak river flow, grouped by metropolitan area. (Figure 4 from Berg, 2018)

    The Houston metropolitan region stands out as a hotspot for increasing urban flooding trends with over 60% of Texas’s metropolitan increasing trend gauges in Harris County alone.

    Texas Voters Want Action

    72% of Texas Voters Recognize the Texas’ Climate Has Changed Over the Past 10 Years

    32% Said Those Changes Have Been Dramatic

    59% Said the State Is Not Well-Prepared For Extreme Weather Events