It’s official. San Antonio did receive snowfall this year. Two tenths of an inch of snow to be exact. A small enough of an amount that we were hard-pressed to call a “snow event” for San Antonio, but it goes into the books nonetheless. It should be noted that those just to the north of town did see accumulations.
The rare weather event leads us to a question that we get every winter in the KSAT Weather department:
Is it going to snow in San Antonio?
It’s not something we can answer easily (unless there’s a system on the way), but we can look at climatology and get a general idea. Take a look at the graph below that shows San Antonio’s snowfall through the decades.
The first thing that likely caught your eye was the decade of the 1980s. Nearly 18 inches of snow fell. Obviously, we know that the bulk of that came in San Antonio’s famous 1985 snowstorm. However, you might be surprised to know that we had four other events during that decade that provided measurable snow. In fact, just 10 days prior to the 13.5 inches of snow, we received 2.4 inches of snow in early 1985.
Another interesting fact is that from 1988 to 2003, San Antonio was snow-free (not counting trace amounts). Fifteen years of nothing. Since 1985, we’ve only seen 3.9 inches of snow in San Antonio and nearly half of that came in a 2017 snowfall.
If you want to average it all out, according to the National Weather Service in New Braunfels, San Antonio receives measurable snowfall every three to four years. As for a significant snowfall (2-4 inches), that only occurs every 10 years or so. But, those are just averages. Snowfall in South Texas tends to be erratic, as shown by the graph.
What about any correlations to El Nino or La Nina? A quick check shows there may be little correlation for us. La Nina typically enhances snowfall across the northern United States and not Texas. However, 1985 happened to be a La Nina year and we are also currently in a moderate La Nina.
At the end of the day, it takes many factors to line up for San Antonio to see measurable snowfall. If just one of those elements is missing, snow won’t happen. So if you’re hoping for another snow day this winter, it’s safe to say that the odds aren’t in our favor.