Texas's climate varies widely, from arid in the west to wet in the east. Due to its large size, Texas is home to several different climates. Texas ranks first in tornado occurrence with an average of 139 per year. There are several distinct climate regions the names of which are not official: Northern Plains, Big Bend Country, Texas Hill Country, Piney Woods, and South Texas.
The Northern Plains's climate can best be described as Humid but it is prone to drought due to climate change. Annually it receives anywhere between 16 to 32 inches of rain. Tornadoes, caused by the convergence of northern and southern prevailing winds are not uncommon, making the region part of the tornado alley. Poor land management, drought, and high wind speeds can cause large dust storms, kept to minimum in modern times, but most troublesome in the 1930s during the great depression. The panhandle region, unprotected by the warm gulf currents experiences colder winters than the other regions of Texas.
Big Bend Country
The Big Bend Country is the farthest west region in geography. It is also the driest receiving an average annual rainfall of only 16 inches or less. The arid climate is the main reason for desertification of the land, but overgrazing is slowly widening the land area of that desert. In the mountain areas one can see coniferous forests in a wetter and more temperate environment. Winds are strengthened as they are forced to push through canyons and valleys. In the flatter areas these winds are harvested into usable electricity.
Texas Hill Country
The Texas Hill Country, or central Texas is shaped by its many rivers and hills. The climate is Subtropical, with cool winters and hot summers. The vegetation is both deciduous in the river valleys, and coniferous where there is greater elevation. In a single year the region can receive up to 48 inches of rain, and flooding is common near rivers and in low lying areas.
The Piney Woods is the eastern region of Texas. It receives the most rainfall; more than 48 inches annually in the far east. This is due to the gulf currents that carry humid air to the region, where it condenses and precipitates. Hurricanes also strike the region, the most disastrous of which was the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. More recently hurricanes Rita and Katrina pummeled the coastline. The humidity of the region greatly amplifies the feeling of heat during the summer. The winters are kept moderate by warm gulf currents.
The region of South Texas includes the semiarid ranch country and the wetter Rio Grande Valley. Considered to be the southernmost tip of the American Great Plains region, its rainfall is similar to that of the Northern Plains. The coastal areas are nearly warm year round. Subtropical forests line the Rio Grande River. Inland, where it is drier, ranches dominate the landscape, characterized by thick spiny brush. The winters are very mild and dry, and the summers hot and humid.
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