Texans know that living in the Lone Star State means being prepared for pretty much anything when it comes to the weather.
Those living on the Gulf Coast are practiced at preparing for hurricanes. Those up north are accustomed to the wail of tornado sirens. And with what experts say are increasingly extreme weather patterns due to climate change, Texas has also seen unprecedented freezing winter storms and scorching summer heat waves in recent years.
But have you ever asked yourself which part of the state has the worst weather?
Anthony Franze, the newsroom meteorologist at the San Antonio Express-News, has been trying to answer that very question.
“I looked at the NOAA’s Storm Events Database. And I looked at hail reports, I looked at tornado reports, wind reports and also flash flooding events since the year 2000,” Franze said. “We only looked at the top five cities and counties based on population. So we looked at those categories for San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin.”
Based on those metrics, the city with the worst weather in Texas is Fort Worth.
“They’ve seen the most severe hail reports since the year 2000, and it’s not particularly close. The DFW area often sees the most destructive tornado events,” he said. “Tarrant County has seen the No. 1 damaging wind reports of all five major cities since the year 2000.”
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Franze said part of the reason Fort Worth has the worst hail could be because it’s west of most other major cities in the state.
“When you go further west, especially areas in West Texas – which didn’t make this list because the population is not as high – areas like Midland, Odessa, Lubbock, they see very high hail rates,” Franze said. “Fort Worth being a little bit further west than the other areas has a little bit more of that influence, too.”
Fort Worth is also located in tornado country, which contributes to the rate of damaging storms. And Tarrant County is also “further off to the east enough that you see more frequent storms that they don’t see in areas of the western half of the state,” Franze said.
Texas weather is unique partly because the state is so big, and partly because of the Gulf of Mexico.
“There’s so much Gulf of Mexico coastline and a lot of population that’s very close to the Gulf and all that moisture that’s coming in,” Franze said. “And so Texas in particular, more than really any other state, you see the class of that humid, tropical sometimes, air mass from the Gulf of Mexico, and then you have the cooler continental cold fronts and cooler air masses that come in from the north. And that clash of air masses, I think, really does make Texas just wild swings of weather. And the severe weather that comes with it can be devastating.”
Franze said the best way to be prepared for extreme weather events is to keep an eye on weather news in your area.
“If you keep up with the updates, [meteorologists] are going to let you know exactly what’s going to happen, when it’s going to happen as best as they can. Of course, things are going to happen sometimes where it’s hard to predict exactly when a tornado is going to touch down,” he said. “But when those ingredients are there, having your ears open, your eyes open and being able to get those updates is the most important thing.”