By Courtney Plunk
December 27, 2015, was the day Lubbockites witnessed a Northern-Plains-style blizzard and a record snowfall of 11 inches, the greatest amount over the past 50 years.
These are just two examples of Lubbock’s notorious weather extremes.
“It can be 70-80 degrees one day and then a snowstorm the next,” said Justin Weaver, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Lubbock. “It is surprising to a lot of people.”
Weaver said West Texas is especially known for wide temperature swings in spring and fall, including “arctic outbreaks where our temperatures don’t get out of the teens.”
“A lot of it is just our geography,” he said. “We are East of the Rocky Mountains and higher in elevation than the rest of the state, about 3,000 feet.
Many students who did not grow up in Lubbock aren’t prepared for the local weather.
Sara Marshall, a Texas Tech senior, advises first-year students to have snow equipment on hand just in case they are stuck indoors for a lengthy period of time.
She learned this lesson during last winter’s blizzard.
“On the third day the snow was starting to melt, and so I knew I had to use that opportunity to get my car out,” Marshall recalled. “We didn’t own a shovel, and so I used a mop bucket and started scooping the snow out all around my car. I knew I wasn’t able to get the ice with my bucket … my neighbors came out and gave me shovels to be able to break the ice.”
For non-winter months, Marshall’s advice to Lubbock newcomers is to be ready for a quick change in temperature.
“I got in the habit of wearing a short sleeve shirt and wearing two layers over because it would get so hot in the afternoon but cold in the morning,” she said.
Watch Texas Tech students discuss their experiences with the many personalities of Lubbock’s weather in the video below.