January: Cold Enough For Ya?

They say that if you don’t like Texas weather, just wait a few minutes, and it’ll change. Of course they say that about many of the places I’ve visited, and as a former archeologist, I’ve been all over the place. However, in Dallas/Fort Worth, that old saw regarding the weather’s a bit truer than elsewhere. Where else can you have a sudden thunderstorm throwing golf-ball sized hail at you in the middle of a 100-degree July day — and then a clear sky an hour later? Things like that happen all the time here, and I want to prep you for what you can expect, whatever time of year you may visit.

Let’s start with January, otherwise known as Enero to my Spanish-speaking friends. January’s the dead of winter for Dallas/Fort Worth. I don’t know about you, but I much prefer the winter to the summer. Despite being a life-long Texan, I hate high temperatures; who knows, maybe I was a Scandinavian in another life. What I do know is that if you’re cold, you can always pile on more layers until you’re toasty. If you’re hot, you can only take off so many layers before the cops are called — unless, of course, you’re someone like Jessica Simpson. (She’s a local girl, by the way.)

But I digress. While January isn’t our coldest month — that’s reserved for February — it’s right up there toward the top of the list. More often than not the January temperature will hover in the 30-50° Fahrenheit range, though there can be a lot of variation: I can remember spring-like days in the 70s, and ice-storms that dropped the temperature below zero for days at a time. Every once in a while an Alberta Clipper or a Blue Norther howls down from extreme North Texas (that is to say, the Midwest or Canada), and we get a nice layer of slippery ice all over the countryside. This is not a good thing, since Texans don’t know how to drive on ice. We can’t reconcile our God-given right to speed with the need to proceed cautiously, and that’s why, on a January day several years ago, there were over six hundred car accidents in Dallas alone. That’s, I don’t know, a couple hundred more than normal. May I suggests you stick to the DART* buses and trains on icy days? Every couple of years, we’ll get some snow in January, but usually only once or twice, and it’s almost always gone by the next day. However, snow days have become increasingly common in the last few years, as the weird effects of global warming and El Niño and such have really started to catch up with us. (A quick aside to a fellow Texan: Mr. President, get your head out of the sand, please). This past January, it snowed five or six times.It also rains a lot in January, unless it’s below freezing, whereupon it sleets. Rule of thumb for a D/FW January: you can expect to wear a sweater and carry an umbrella much of the time, but keep your winter coat handy for the hard freezes. Oh, and it’s probably a good idea to break out your golf shoes to keep your footing: Texans don’t know how to walk on ice, either, and you’ll need the cleats so you can stay upright when they slide into you.*That’s Dallas Area Rapid Transit, and no, it’s not available everywhere. Sorry.