Snow in Houston is considered as rare as an honest person in Congress or perhaps an intact marriage in Hollywood. However, an inch and a half dusting of the white stuff on lawns and sidewalks greeted commuters on the morning of December 8, 2017. The snow and icy streets have made going to work complicated for many people, but compared to the deluge of Harvey, the unusual snowfall is not a very bad thing and can be fun, while it lasts. As of this writing, the snow and ice are not expected to last beyond sunrise.

Snowfall in Houston in early December

Space City Weather notes that officially the snowfall in Houston was at one and a half inches. A rare combination of precipitation and a cold front that took temperatures below freezing combined to cause the snow to fall along with some sleet and freezing rain. The weather has caused numerous accidents on Houston highways, especially on bridges that tend to freeze when these kinds of events happen.

The history of snow in Houston

Space City Weather explains that the record snowfall for Houston was an incredible 20 inches in 1895 on Valentine’s Day. 4.4 inches fell on February 12, 1960. Usually, according to the Weather Research Center, snow in Houston does not exceed more than about two inches and often is classified as “trace” amounts.

A trace amount of snow in Houston means that the snowflakes descend from the sky, but then immediately melt when it hits the pavement. The temperature in the air is just enough to cause snow, but the asphalt is still above freezing.

Snow a cause of celebration

Usually, any significant amount of snow in Houston is a cause of celebration rather than concern.

Houston is better snow for its sweltering summers than it is its frigid winters. Snow has not, except for the 1960 Blizzard, been in enough quantities for a snowman, but snowball fights have been known to occur between otherwise responsible adults, some of whom may never have seen the white stuff except on television.

The most magical snowfall in Houston took place on Christmas Eve, 2004.

I remember that three of us were walking home from a nearby movie theater where we had seen one of that year’s holiday blockbusters when flurries of snowflakes began to descend, dusting out heads and making a reasonable facsimile of a winter wonderland. For me, it brought back a memory of a childhood in Indiana that featured winters of sledding down a hill at a nearby park, snowmen, snow forts, and snowball fights with the neighborhood kids. Sadly, the movie theater no longer exists, and the friend of my wife and I who was with us died a couple of years ago. However, the fond memories remain.