BEAUMONT, Texas — Snow is not a common event in Southeast Texas.  

You may remember the recent 1 to 5 inches that fell on December 11, 2008, or the 4 plus inches that fell on February 12-13th in 1960. 

However, today marks the 125th anniversary of the Great Gulf Coast Snowstorm across Texas and Louisiana.  

This event produced the greatest amount of snowfall over Southeast Texas ever to be recorded since the area was settled. 

The snow was so heavy that trains couldn’t plow through the snow and snowshoes had to be used in the city.

The Great Gulf Coast Snowstorm of February 14-15, 1895
Up to 30 inches of snow fell over SE Texas

Snowfall amounts of 4 to 8 inches fell across the Lakes Area of SE Texas.

 However, snowfall amounts of a foot to 2.5 feet fell across the Triangle, crippling travel.

The Lakes Area Snowfall totals from the Great Gulf Coast Snowstorm
4 to 12 inches of snow fell over the Lakes Area of SE Texas

Local snowfall totals across SE Texas and Louisiana varied from four inches to nearly 30 inches of snowfall. 

Even New Orleans, LA reported 8 inches of snow which effectively shut down the city’s streetcar routes.  Imagine over 15 inches on Galveston Island!

Regional snowfall totals
Regional snowfall totals due to the Great Gulf Coast Snowstorm of 1895

This resulted in significant cattle kill, with reports of them dying “in piles” in the streets of Beaumont.  At times, only heads and horns could be seen because of the snow drifts of 6 feet!  

The picture below shows cattle walking down the streets of Beaumont in the snow shot from the Jefferson County Courthouse. The image below is a courtesy photo from the Stephen F. Austin State University archives.

A View from Beaumont, TX during the Great Gulf Coast Snowstorm of 1895
Snowfall totals nearly 30 inches fell in Beaumont, TX. This image shows the 6 foot drifts with cattle walking down the city streets.

Limited pictures of the time reveal the historic snowfall amounts of 14 inches at Kountze, TX.

Kountze, TX during the 1895 storm
Snowfall totals of up to 14 inches fell at Kountze, TX Image courtesy photo by Larry Harris

The snow stayed on the ground for ten days.

Just four years later almost to the day, the Great Arctic Outbreak stuck plunging the nation into one of the greatest cold spells in our nation’s history. 

1899 Arctic Outbreak
Then, 4 years to the day, the Great Arctic Outbreak of 1899 struck the country

Southeast Texas was not immune. This event brought the coldest weather to our area ever recorded.  

Temperatures fell to 8 degrees at Sabine Pass, 4 degrees at Beaumont and near zero in Jasper.

Local temperatures due to the Arctic Outbreak of 1899
The coldest weather since SE Texas has been settled occurred during this time.

Temperatures of minus 20 were common in the Ohio River Valley, and an astonishing -61 degrees was recorded at Fort Logan, Montana!  

Temperatures across Texas were extraordinarily cold. Dallas dropped to minus 10, Austin fell to minus 5, Galveston reached 8, Houston fell to 6, Longview fell to minus 7, but Tulia, TX was the coldest at minus 21 degrees.  The cold was so widespread that the northern Mississippi River froze solid and when a thaw ensued, ice was seen flowing past New Orleans.  

Locally, the newly-arrived Dutch immigrants from Nederland were seen ice skating on the Sabine Pass channel. Plus, speckled trout, stunned by the cold, were being shoveled into wagons at McFaddin Beach.

(Info courtesy the Beaumont, Enterprise-Journal, January 21, 1979, p. 9A by W.T. Block)

(Image courtesy photo by Larry Harris.)

(Image courtesy Stephen F. Austin State University.)