Thursday, December 3, 2009

Misconceiving Texas

In my growing effort to dispel the myths of being Texan, I’ve decided finally to “take it to the blog”. It has amazed me for years, the common misconceptions people have about my great state. From New York to California to Tennessee, the number of amazing, and sometimes ridiculously ignorant, questions I have received have overwhelmed my brain; nudging out important Jeopardy trivia facts, names of acquaintances, and my entire 3rd grade year.

What other state requires two years of state history? Texas. I know more about the Alamo than I do about recent American history. I never made it past the industrial revolution in school, but I have two years of Alamo, American Indian War, Mexican-American War, and annexation, but no years of Roosevelt or Kennedy. Kinda sad, right? Not if you want to indoctrinate your citizens with an overwhelming pride that could only possibly be matched by New Yorkers.

Welcome to "Misconceiving Texas".

Misconception about Texas #3: It's always hot.

First off, not true. Sure, we might not have the snowed in trials and tribulations of the Midwest and Northeast, but that doesn't mean we don't experience winter. This isn't California! Texas has four agreed upon regions that comprise it's almost 262,000 square miles: Coastal Plains, Interior Lowlands, Great Plains, and Mountains and Basin Range. Each has a unique topography that mimics the rest of the country. How can a state so large be lumped into only one category? It's impossible.

In the Coastal Plains, winters are pretty mild. Encompassing, Houston, Corpus Christi, to San Antonio. Tropical winds moving in from the Gulf of Mexico keep the coast line humid.
From Abilene to Dallas and down towards Waco, the Interior Lowlands are what I call home. Very hot summers lead to crisp winters. No one who lives here should have any argument against the existence of global warming. When I was in grade school, we had snow days and ice days. I can remember crunching through the ice towards home from school. Now, the winters are cold but mostly dry. We haven't had a real winter since the Ice Storm of 2000. That being said, 30⁰F is cold anywhere in the world.
(Yep, that was my car earlier this week. Like the beginnings of Lake Murderville in the background?)

In the Great Plains region, they wouldn't know snow if it knocked on their door. When I lived in Austin, I was surprised at how warm it was in January. I asked them if they ever got snow or ice. My friends who grew up there looked at me like I'd sprouted a second head! This is not to say the freak snow storm doesn't pop up from time to time. My sister said there was one a few years ago that disrupted finals at A&M, however it is uncommon.

On many maps, the Great Plains reaches up into the Texas panhandle. Here, snow is a completely different story. Lubbock and Amarillo lie in the same plain as New Mexico and parts of Colorado, so they get a good dose of snow in the winters and have temperate summers.
In the Mountains and Basins region, snow is a foreign word. Sweeping up the Western portion of the state along the Rio Grande to El Paso, like other desert regions, it gets cold in the winter but nothing more.

Where ever you're from in the U.S., there is a part of Texas that will make you feel like home. Enjoy hiking and being outdoors? Check out the central part of the state. Are you a snow bunny who wants winter or bust? Move to the panhandle. Fishing, snorkeling, and bad surfing can be found along the coast. For those of you who want the Texas you see in television advertisements, check out the Rio Grande.
And yes, Virginia, it gets cold here too.


  1. Good topic! There is so much to cover here. I especially can't stand it when people always think we're all a bunch of slow southern drawl cowboy hat wearing country music loving hicks!!!

  2. Keep your eyes peeled for future volumes! And, anyone else who has a conception about or witnessed first hand a misconception, please let me know!