AUSTIN (KXAN) — Central Texas may be in the midst of summer heat, but the changing of the seasons will, inevitably, bring cooler temperatures.

As we head into October, cooler temperatures typically arrive in a hurry. Average high temperatures drop from the upper 80s at the beginning of the month to the upper 70s by the end of the month. Average low temperatures drop from the mid-60s to the mid-50s by the time we reach Halloween.

October normals for Austin
October normals for Austin

By late October, however, our record lows drop below freezing, making the last week of October the theoretical first chance of a freeze in the Austin Metro.

Average first freeze

The first freeze is defined as the first time temperatures drop to freezing or below. A light freeze would be temperatures at or just below freezing, a hard freeze would mean temperatures drop into the 20s.

The average first freeze in Austin comes later than most surrounding areas due to the urban heat island effect. The most recent 30-year average (1991-2020) for Austin’s Camp Mabry points to an average first freeze of December 1. This is actually five days earlier than the previous 30-year average (1981-2010).

The Hill Country typically sees its first freeze around mid-November. Our Eastern Counties typically freeze during the last week of November. Suburban areas near Austin typically see an earlier first freeze than the city itself.

Average first freeze
Average first freeze

The average last freeze is February 15 for Austin’s Camp Mabry.

First freeze over the last few years

We had to wait until January of this year for the first freeze of the 2021-2022 cold season making for one of the latest first freezes on record.

Here are the dates of the first freeze over the last five years.

  • 2021 — January 2 (2022)
  • 2020 — December 1
  • 2019 — November 1
  • 2018 — November 14
  • 2017 — December 7

What about this fall/winter?

The early outlook for our “cooler” months is for the La Niña pattern to keep us warmer and drier than normal.

While a warmer pattern would tend to suggest our first freeze would be later than normal this year, our drier pattern may help to offset the hotter days by bringing some cooler nights. The drier the ground and the air, the easier it is to cool at nighttime under clear skies and calm winds. This makes forecasting when our first freeze will be this cool season a little bit challenging.