Southeast Texas

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Southeast Texas
From top, left to right: Downtown Houston, Beaumont, Downtown Galveston, and Port Arthur
Southeast Texas counties in red
Southeast Texas counties in red
Country United States
State Texas
Largest city Houston
Population
 (2020)
 • Total7,662,325[1][2][3]

Southeast Texas is a cultural and geographic region in the U.S. state of Texas, bordering Southwest Louisiana and its greater Acadiana region to the east. Being a part of East Texas, the region is geographically centered on the Greater Houston and Beaumont–Port Arthur metropolitan statistical areas with a combined population of 7,662,325 according to the 2020 U.S. census.[4][5][6]

Geography[edit]

Southeast Texas includes part of the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and most of the Texas portion of the Intracoastal Waterway.[7] The area is also crossed by numerous rivers and streams, the largest three being the Sabine River, the Neches River, and the Trinity River.

In Southeast Texas and the rest of the Southern United States, small rivers and creeks collect into swamps called "bayous" and merge with the surrounding forest. The only large bodies of water in Southeast Texas are Galveston Bay and Sabine Lake, but the large reservoirs of the remainder of East Texas are just to the north. The eastern portion of Southeast Texas is geographically and culturally attached to Southwest Louisiana, though western, southern and northern areas maintain their own distinct Texan cultural identities.

Near the coast, the land is low and extremely flat, and often marshy. The Piney Woods extend into the northern parts of Southeast Texas, reaching as far south as the rice paddies and marshlands that lie between Houston and Beaumont.[8] The highest point on the coast is at High Island, where a salt dome raises the elevation to around 40 feet (12 m) above sea level.

Away from the coast, the terrain begins to exhibit the rolling hills of Northeast and Central Texas. Toward Central Texas, the mixed pine and hardwood forests give way to the East Central Texas forests of post oak and grasslands.

Golden Triangle[edit]

The Golden Triangle is an area of extreme Southeast Texas near the Louisiana border.[9] The "triangle" is formed by Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Orange, which are the largest cities in the area. "Golden" refers to the wealth that came from the Spindletop oil strike near Beaumont in 1901. In an attempt to distance the area from the petrochemical industry, some area interests attempted to rename the Golden Triangle as the "Triplex." This name change did not catch on, and local residents still refer to it as the Golden Triangle. Some residents of the Golden Triangle do not consider the Greater Houston area to be part of Southeast Texas and place the western boundary of the region approximately at the Trinity River, which is roughly 30 miles from downtown Houston.[10]

This area holds the annual South Texas State Fair in Beaumont.[11]

Big Thicket[edit]

The Big Thicket is an area of dense forest located in the area just north and northwest of the city of Beaumont. There are many small towns in this area, including Woodville and Kountze.

The Big Thicket National Preserve protects part of the old thicket, highlighting the area's biological resources. The 97,000 acre (390 km²) preserve boasts a varied ecology of piney woods, swamps, and coastal prairies. It includes extremely diverse range of plant species including orchids, cactus, cypress, and pine in close proximity to each other. Approximately 65,000 people visit this area each year.[12]

Two historically important routes cross the Big Thicket: to the north lies the old cattle route or Beef Trail, that ran from Tyler County to Louisiana; to the south is the Spanish Trail or the Atascosito Road, that parallels modern Highway 90 and Interstate 10 from Liberty to Orange.

Galveston Bay[edit]

Galveston Bay is a large estuary located along Texas upper coast. The bay is fed by the Trinity River and the San Jacinto River, numerous local bayous, and incoming tides from the Gulf of Mexico. The bay covers approximately 600 square miles (1,500 km²), and is 30 miles (50 km) long and 17 miles (27 km) wide. Galveston Bay is on average 7–9 feet (2-3 m) deep.[13] The bay has three inlets to the Gulf of Mexico: Bolivar Roads (the exit of the Houston Ship Channel) between Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula, San Luis Pass to the west, and Rollover Pass to the east.

The Houston Ship Channel, connecting the Port of Houston to the Gulf, passes through Galveston Bay.[14] Houston is the largest city on the bay, while smaller ones include Galveston, Pasadena, Baytown, and Texas City. The bay provides nursery and spawning grounds for large amounts of marine life and is important for both commercial and recreational fishing.

Climate[edit]

Hurricane Harvey, Houston, 2017

Compared to the rest of the state, Southeast Texas' climate is warmer in winter and cooler in summer. On average, the region receives more rain than other parts of the state, and it experiences a wet season and dry season like the tropics. This can increase the humidity level in the region. The relatively mild and wet climate is largely due to the influence of the Gulf of Mexico.

The Southeast Texas region can be comparable to that of Southern Louisiana in climate. Average annual rainfall in the Golden Triangle is 60 inches (1,500 mm). Rainfall totals in other parts of Southeast Texas are lower, but still in excess of 40 inches (1,000 mm) per year. During Tropical Storm Claudette in 1979, the city of Alvin recorded an official 24-hour rainfall total of 42 inches (1,067 mm)—the highest one-day rainfall total ever measured in the United States. Nederland received 66 inches during Harvey.

Houston has been called the "Lightning Capital of Texas",[15][16] as its density of lightning strikes is higher than it is in other parts of the state. This area of unusually high lightning activity stretches from Houston eastward into Southwest Louisiana. Much of this can be explained by the natural occurrence of thunderstorms in the region, which form almost daily during the wet season. However, the unusual clustering of lightning around the developed areas of Houston, the Golden Triangle, and Lake Charles, Louisiana have led many researchers to believe that some combination of urban heat islands and air pollution are responsible for increasing the number of lightning strikes beyond even the already-high natural levels.

Southeast Texas is vulnerable to hurricanes. Major hurricanes that have severely affected the area in the 21st century include Hurricane Rita in 2005; Hurricane Ike, which passed over much of Houston and surrounding areas in 2008; and Hurricane Harvey, which inundated Southeast Texas in 2017. Weaker storms strike the area routinely. Some, like Tropical Storm Allison and Tropical Storm Claudette, have caused considerable damage.

Climate data for Houston (Intercontinental Airport), 1991–2020 normals,[a] extremes 1888–present[b]
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 84
(29)
91
(33)
96
(36)
95
(35)
99
(37)
107
(42)
105
(41)
109
(43)
109
(43)
99
(37)
89
(32)
85
(29)
109
(43)
Mean maximum °F (°C) 78.9
(26.1)
81.2
(27.3)
85.4
(29.7)
88.6
(31.4)
93.8
(34.3)
97.8
(36.6)
99.1
(37.3)
101.2
(38.4)
97.3
(36.3)
92.2
(33.4)
84.9
(29.4)
80.7
(27.1)
102.1
(38.9)
Average high °F (°C) 63.8
(17.7)
67.8
(19.9)
74.0
(23.3)
80.1
(26.7)
86.9
(30.5)
92.3
(33.5)
94.5
(34.7)
94.9
(34.9)
90.4
(32.4)
82.8
(28.2)
72.6
(22.6)
65.3
(18.5)
80.5
(26.9)
Average low °F (°C) 43.7
(6.5)
47.6
(8.7)
53.6
(12.0)
59.8
(15.4)
67.8
(19.9)
73.7
(23.2)
75.7
(24.3)
75.4
(24.1)
70.6
(21.4)
60.9
(16.1)
51.5
(10.8)
45.6
(7.6)
60.5
(15.8)
Mean minimum °F (°C) 27.5
(−2.5)
31.6
(−0.2)
35.0
(1.7)
43.4
(6.3)
53.8
(12.1)
66.5
(19.2)
70.5
(21.4)
70.0
(21.1)
58.3
(14.6)
44.1
(6.7)
34.2
(1.2)
30.0
(−1.1)
26
(−3)
Record low °F (°C) 5
(−15)
6
(−14)
21
(−6)
31
(−1)
42
(6)
52
(11)
62
(17)
54
(12)
45
(7)
29
(−2)
19
(−7)
7
(−14)
5
(−15)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.76
(96)
2.97
(75)
3.47
(88)
3.95
(100)
5.01
(127)
6.00
(152)
3.77
(96)
4.84
(123)
4.71
(120)
5.46
(139)
3.87
(98)
4.03
(102)
51.84
(1,317)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 10.0 8.8 8.8 7.3 8.6 10.0 9.1 8.5 8.4 7.7 7.6 9.6 104.4
Average relative humidity (%) 74.7 73.4 72.7 73.1 75.0 74.6 74.4 75.1 76.8 75.4 76.0 75.5 74.7
Average dew point °F (°C) 41.5
(5.3)
44.2
(6.8)
51.3
(10.7)
57.7
(14.3)
65.1
(18.4)
70.3
(21.3)
72.1
(22.3)
72.0
(22.2)
68.5
(20.3)
59.5
(15.3)
51.4
(10.8)
44.8
(7.1)
58.2
(14.6)
Mean monthly sunshine hours 143.4 155.0 192.5 209.8 249.2 281.3 293.9 270.5 236.5 228.8 168.3 148.7 2,577.9
Percent possible sunshine 44 50 52 54 59 67 68 66 64 64 53 47 58
Source: NOAA (relative humidity and dew point 1969–1990, sun 1961–1990)[18][19][20]
Climate data for Beaumont, Texas (1991–2020 normals, extremes 1901–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 86
(30)
90
(32)
95
(35)
97
(36)
101
(38)
106
(41)
108
(42)
105
(41)
108
(42)
99
(37)
94
(34)
86
(30)
108
(42)
Average high °F (°C) 62.6
(17.0)
65.8
(18.8)
72.1
(22.3)
78.3
(25.7)
85.2
(29.6)
90.4
(32.4)
92.0
(33.3)
92.8
(33.8)
88.6
(31.4)
81.5
(27.5)
71.4
(21.9)
64.2
(17.9)
78.7
(25.9)
Daily mean °F (°C) 52.9
(11.6)
56.6
(13.7)
62.9
(17.2)
68.9
(20.5)
76.6
(24.8)
82.3
(27.9)
83.7
(28.7)
84.1
(28.9)
79.3
(26.3)
71.0
(21.7)
61.3
(16.3)
54.7
(12.6)
69.5
(20.8)
Average low °F (°C) 43.3
(6.3)
47.4
(8.6)
53.7
(12.1)
59.4
(15.2)
68.1
(20.1)
74.1
(23.4)
75.5
(24.2)
75.3
(24.1)
70.1
(21.2)
60.6
(15.9)
51.2
(10.7)
45.1
(7.3)
60.3
(15.7)
Record low °F (°C) 11
(−12)
10
(−12)
20
(−7)
36
(2)
43
(6)
53
(12)
64
(18)
57
(14)
44
(7)
33
(1)
23
(−5)
20
(−7)
10
(−12)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 5.38
(137)
3.66
(93)
3.73
(95)
3.93
(100)
5.24
(133)
7.04
(179)
6.48
(165)
7.19
(183)
7.36
(187)
5.38
(137)
4.42
(112)
5.26
(134)
65.07
(1,653)
Average snowfall inches (cm) 0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.1
(0.25)
0.1
(0.25)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 10.3 9.5 8.2 7.2 7.2 10.6 12.0 10.4 9.2 7.2 7.9 10.0 109.7
Source 1: NOAA

"NowData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved August 27, 2021.[21]

Source 2: NOAA: Snow Climatology for Southeast Texas & Southwest Louisiana[22]

Culture[edit]

The culture of Southeast Texas is more closer to Acadiana in Louisiana or the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, than it is to West Texas; among some of its population, Cajun identity has been preserved.[23] Much of contemporary Southeast Texas has its roots in traditions that go back generations; the region is consistent with much of rural Texas in that it is part of the Bible Belt—an area in which many inhabitants have strongly traditional Protestant Christian beliefs.[24] Additionally, the Catholic Church in the United States has remained a prominent religious influence since Spanish colonization and missionary work.[25][26][27] Among its largest cities in East Texas outside Houston, many still follow a rural Southern way of life, especially in dialect, mannerisms, and cuisine.

Economy[edit]

In the urban areas of Southeast Texas, energy, healthcare, manufacturing and technology are prominent industries. Houston is the largest city and economic center of Southeast Texas, and it holds the third most Fortune 500 headquarters by concentration in the U.S. as of 2021.[28] Major corporations in the region include APA Corporation, Chevron Corporation, HostGator, Jason's Deli, JPMorgan Chase, and Sysco. Outside of the cities, agriculture, tourism and small business have always been major factors in the economy.

Higher education[edit]

The University of Houston System is the largest and most prominent university system based in Southeast Texas, although Texas Southern University, Prairie View A&M University, the University of Saint Thomas, Houston Baptist University, and others are also notable subjects to the region's undergraduate and postgraduate systems. In areas closer to Beaumont, Lamar University within the Texas State University System is the center of higher education.

Among the many higher education bodies of Southeast Texas, the University of Houston has an over $6.4 billion economic impact to the region, and $7.7 billion to the state.[29][30] Its most prominent institutions have been its energy and health colleges, while the historically black college and university of Texas Southern has made an economic impact of $530 million according to data from 2014.[31]

Rice University in Houston is the most prestigious university in the state of Texas and is ranked 17th in the nation by U.S. News & World.[32]

Sports[edit]

NRG Stadium of the Houston Texans

Within Southeast Texas, the city of Houston and the metropolitan area has a rich sporting culture and the area residents are active in many spectator and participant sports. Spectators attend events including teams from four major professional sports teams and collegiate sports; Beaumont is also the second principal location for collegiate sports. Participants enjoy activities from running in Memorial Park to sailing on Galveston Bay and Clear Lake. A number of other sports are also available, including nearly a dozen fencing clubs, ranging from recreational clubs to elite competitive organizations.[33]

Major league[edit]

Professional major league teams
Club League Sport Venue Founded Titles Attendance
Houston Texans NFL Football NRG Stadium 2002 0 71,644
Houston Astros MLB Baseball Minute Maid Park 1962 1 (2017) 31,628
Houston Dynamo FC MLS Soccer PNC Stadium 2006 2 (2006, 2007) 20,117
Houston Rockets NBA Basketball Toyota Center 1967 2 (1994, 1995) 16,672
Lamar University sports complex, Beaumont

Collegiate[edit]

NCAA Division I programs
School Nickname Major Venues Conference
University of Houston Cougars TDECU Stadium, Fertitta Center American (FBS)
Lamar University Cardinals Provost Umphrey Stadium WAC
Rice University Owls Rice Stadium, Tudor Fieldhouse C–USA (FBS)
Houston Baptist University Huskies Husky Stadium, Sharp Gymnasium Southland (FCS)
Texas Southern University Tigers Health and Physical Education Arena SWAC (FCS)
Prairie View A&M University(in Prairie View) Panthers Panther Stadium at Blackshear Field, William Nicks Building SWAC (FCS)

Transportation[edit]

There are a variety of highways stretching between the Greater Houston and Beaumont metropolitan areas, connecting the communities to the remainder of the Gulf Coast region of the United States, and the Texas Triangle. Among other modes of transportation, the largest airports operating in Southeast Texas are all stationed in the city of Houston.

Designation Common Name Year of

First Freeway Section[34]

Maximum

width: mainlanes (HOV)[35]

Maximum

Traffic Count, 2001 (AADT)[36]

Maximum

Traffic Count, 2009 (AADT)[37]

Maximum

Traffic Count, 2012 (AADT)[37]

I-10 Baytown-East Freeway 1953 10 225,640 195,000 168,000
Katy Freeway 1956 26(4)[38] 238,520 268,000 360,000
I-45 Gulf Freeway 1948 8(1) 269,570 266,000 245,000
North Freeway 1959 10(1) 291,470 317,000 312,000
I-69 / US 59 Eastex Freeway 1953 10(1) 211,860 195,000 205,000
Southwest Freeway 1961 13(1) 379,550 329,000 318,000
I-610 610 Loop 1952 10 293,460 288,000 292,000
Sam Houston Tollway Beltway 8 1982 9 202,900 189,000 203,410**[1]
Fort Bend Tollway Fort Bend Parkway Toll Road 2004 4 9,471**[2]
Hardy Toll Road 1987 6 59,220 61,000 63,000
Westpark Tollway 2004 4 119,385**[3]
US 90 Crosby Freeway 1991 6 31,090 46,000 40,000
US 290 Northwest Freeway 1975 8(1) 262,970 230,000 239,000
Spur 5 Spur 5 1988 6 54,240 37,000 33,000
Spur 330 Decker Drive 2001 6 32,890 37,000 47,000
Spur 527 The Downtown Split[39] 1961 6* 93,410 64,000 65,000
SH 99 / SH 99 Toll Grand Parkway 1994 4 36,200 68,000 47,000
SH 146 Baytown Freeway 1996 8 74,670 73,000 76,000
SH 225 La Porte Freeway 1966 8 152,780 133,000 113,000
SH 249 / Tomball Tollway Tomball Parkway 1990 8 119,780 142,000 151,000
SH 288 South Freeway 1980 8 178,490 172,000 163,000
FM 1764 Emmett F. Lowry Expressway 4 48,050 40,000 35,000
** For these toll roads, this represents the highest AADT as measured at a toll booth, but not necessarily the highest traffic at any point along the toll road.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the highest and lowest temperature readings during an entire month or year) calculated based on data at said location from 1991 to 2020.
  2. ^ Official records for Houston were kept at the Weather Bureau in downtown from July 1888 to May 1969, and at Intercontinental since June 1969.[17]
  1. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Chambers County, Texas; Brazoria County, Texas; Austin County, Texas; Orange County, Texas; Jefferson County, Texas; Hardin County, Texas". Census.gov. Retrieved 2022-07-20.
  2. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Waller County, Texas; Montgomery County, Texas; Liberty County, Texas; Harris County, Texas; Galveston County, Texas; Fort Bend County, Texas". Census.gov. Retrieved 2022-07-20.
  3. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Polk County, Texas; San Jacinto County, Texas; Tyler County, Texas; Jasper County, Texas; Newton County, Texas". Census.gov. Retrieved 2022-07-20.
  4. ^ "2020 Population Table I". U.S. Census Bureau.
  5. ^ "2020 Population Table II". U.S. Census Bureau.
  6. ^ "2020 Population Table III". U.S. Census Bureau.
  7. ^ "Gulf Intracoastal Waterway". Texas Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2022-05-13.
  8. ^ "Piney Woods". Houston Wilderness. Retrieved 2022-05-13.
  9. ^ "Golden triangle texas". 25 June 2010. Archived from the original on 2017-09-21. Retrieved 2017-09-21.
  10. ^ East-Texas.com. "South East Texas". www.east-texas.com. Retrieved 2020-05-17.
  11. ^ "Timeline". South Texas State Fair. Retrieved 2022-06-15.
  12. ^ "Big Thicket National Preserve". National Park Foundation. Retrieved 2022-05-13.
  13. ^ "Galveston Bay". Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 2022-05-13.
  14. ^ "Houston Ship Channel". Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 2022-05-13.
  15. ^ "Houston: Lightning capital of Texas!". KHOU 11. Retrieved 2020-05-17.
  16. ^ "Research: Houston is lightning capital of Texas". CW39 Houston. 2016-08-26. Retrieved 2020-05-17.
  17. ^ ThreadEx
  18. ^ "NowData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2021-05-31.
  19. ^ "Station Name: TX HOUSTON INTERCONT AP". U.S. Climate Normals 2020: U.S. Monthly Climate Normals (1991-2020). National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2021-05-31.
  20. ^ "WMO Climate Normals for HOUSTON/INTERCONTINENTAL, TX 1961–1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2020-07-18.
  21. ^ "Station: Beaumont City, TX". U.S. Climate Normals 2020: U.S. Monthly Climate Normals (1991-2020). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved August 27, 2021.
  22. ^ US Department of Commerce, NOAA. "Research Studies". www.weather.gov. Retrieved June 3, 2021.
  23. ^ "Cajun Texans". Texas Almanac. Retrieved 2022-05-13.
  24. ^ "Religious Affiliation in Texas". Texas Almanac. 2017-11-30. Archived from the original on 2017-12-22. Retrieved 2017-12-21.
  25. ^ "Facts and Figures". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Retrieved 2022-05-15.
  26. ^ "History of the Archdiocese". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Retrieved 2022-05-15.
  27. ^ "History". Roman Catholic Diocese of Beaumont.
  28. ^ "Houston Home to 24 Fortune 500 Companies, 3rd Highest Concentration in the U.S." Greater Houston Partnership. Retrieved 2022-05-13.
  29. ^ "Economic Impact - University of Houston". uh.edu. Retrieved 2022-06-15.
  30. ^ "ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: UH HAS $6.4B ANNUAL IMPACT ON HOUSTON". stories.uh.edu. Retrieved 2022-06-15.
  31. ^ "HBCU Fact Sheet: Texas Southern University" (PDF). United Negro College Fund.
  32. ^ "U.S. News & World Rice University Ranking".
  33. ^ "Gulf Coast Division". Archived from the original on 2013-04-22.
  34. ^ HoustonFreeways.com Erik Slotboom, 2003. Last accessed December 23, 2006.
  35. ^ Mapquest Satellite images. Last accessed December 23, 2006.
  36. ^ Houston Galveston Area Council Traffic Counts, archived from the original on December 30, 2006, retrieved December 23, 2006. 2001. Last accessed December 23, 2006.
  37. ^ a b Statewide Planning Map Texas Department of Transportation. 2009. Last accessed October 25, 2013.
  38. ^ In Auto News - List of World Record Highways, archived from the original on November 11, 2013, retrieved December 2, 2014. Last accessed December 2, 2014.
  39. ^ A Guide to Traffic and Reconstruction of Spur 527. southwestcorridor.com Last accessed January 2, 2007.

External links[edit]