Editor’s Note: The above video explains why pipes burst when they freeze.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — The strongest cold front of the season moved through the state on Wednesday and Thursday, finally ushering in fall temperatures for most of Texas. Now that it feels like fall, it’s time to look at that first freeze.
A freeze is defined as having a low temperature of 32º or colder. Technically a hard freeze is when temperatures drop to 28º or below. You can get frost with air temperatures several degrees above freezing.
For the purposes of this, we’ll just look at the average first day with low temperatures of 32º or colder coming after the conclusion of the summer months. The average is over a 30-year period from 1991-2020.
As you’d expect the earliest freezes in Texas happen in the northern and western parts of the state. Amarillo has the earliest average first freeze of this list with an October dip to 32º or below.
The latest freezes happen in cities closer to the Gulf of Mexico, especially those farther south. Brownsville has the latest first freeze, usually having to wait until January to reach the freezing mark.
Abilene – Nov. 11
Amarillo – Oct. 22
Austin – Dec. 1
Brownsville – Jan. 4
Corpus Christi – Dec. 20
Dallas – Nov. 23
Del Rio – Dec. 4
El Paso – Nov. 15
Houston – Dec. 4
Laredo – Dec. 16
Lubbock – Oct. 29
Midland – Nov. 15
San Angelo – Nov. 10
San Antonio – Nov. 29
In Central Texas, there’s quite a lot of variety as well. While Austin averages the first freeze around the start of December, it can happen several days earlier for the Austin suburbs away from Interstate 35.
The average first freeze in the Texas Hill Country is closer to the middle or even early November. Eastern counties in Central Texas average a first freeze closer to the end of November.
Earliest and latest freezes in Austin
In four separate years, Austin has had its first freeze after summer come in the month of October. Oct. 26, 1924, was the earliest freeze on record for the Austin area.
In Austin, the latest first freezes after summer ended were not until January of the following year. As recently as 2022, Austin had its first freeze in January. The latest first freeze was on Jan. 15, 1989.