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Southeast Texas is a sub-region of East Texas located in the southeast corner of the U.S. state of Texas. The sub-region is geographically centered on the Houston–Sugar Land–The Woodlands, and Beaumont–Port Arthur metropolitan areas.
East Texas is a distinct cultural, geographic and ecological area in the U.S. state of Texas.
In the United States, a state is a constituent political entity, of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a political union, each state holds governmental jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory and shares its sovereignty with the federal government. Due to this shared sovereignty, Americans are citizens both of the federal republic and of the state in which they reside. State citizenship and residency are flexible, and no government approval is required to move between states, except for persons restricted by certain types of court orders. Four states use the term commonwealth rather than state in their full official names.
Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, while the Gulf of Mexico is to the southeast.
Culturally, Southeast Texas is more closely akin to the Gulf Coast, Louisiana, or even Mississippi, than it is to West Texas. Much of modern Southeast Texas culture has its roots in traditions that go back for generations. Southeast Texas is consistent with much of the rest of rural Texas in that it is a part of the Bible Belt, an area in which many inhabitants have strongly Fundamentalist Christian beliefs. Many of the largest cities in East Texas outside Houston still follow a rural Southern way of life, especially in dialect, mannerisms, religion, and cuisine.
The Gulf Coast of the United States is the coastline along the Southern United States where they meet the Gulf of Mexico. The coastal states that have a shoreline on the Gulf of Mexico are Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, and these are known as the Gulf States.
Louisiana is a state in the Deep South region of the South Central United States. It is the 31st most extensive and the 25th most populous of the 50 United States. Louisiana is bordered by the state of Texas to the west, Arkansas to the north, Mississippi to the east, and the Gulf of Mexico to the south. A large part of its eastern boundary is demarcated by the Mississippi River. Louisiana is the only U.S. state with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are equivalent to counties. The state's capital is Baton Rouge, and its largest city is New Orleans.
Mississippi is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. Mississippi is the 32nd most extensive and 34th most populous of the 50 United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Alabama to the east, the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana to the south, and Arkansas and Louisiana to the west. The state's western boundary is largely defined by the Mississippi River. Jackson, with a population of approximately 175,000 people, is both the state's capital and largest city.
Though 35 percent of Texas' population is now Hispanic, African-Americans are still the most populous minority in Southeast Texas. During the Civil Rights Movement several communities clashed over racial integration issues.
The term Hispanic broadly refers to the people, nations, and cultures that have a historical link to the Spanish language or the country of Spain, depending on the context.
In sociology, a minority group refers to a category of people who experience relative disadvantage as compared to members of a dominant social group. Minority group membership is typically based on differences in observable characteristics or practices, such as: sex, ethnicity, race, religion, disability, or sexual orientation. Utilizing the framework of intersectionality, it is important to recognize that an individual may simultaneously hold membership in multiple minority groups. Likewise, individuals may also be part of a minority group in regard to some characteristics, but part of a dominant group in regard to others.
Racial integration, or simply integration, includes desegregation. In addition to desegregation, integration includes goals such as leveling barriers to association, creating equal opportunity regardless of race, and the development of a culture that draws on diverse traditions, rather than merely bringing a racial minority into the majority culture. Desegregation is largely a legal matter, integration largely a social one.
Southeast Texas includes part of the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and most of the Texas portion of the Intracoastal Waterway. 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 South, 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 East Texas are just to the North. The southeastern portion of Texas also is geographically and culturally attached to Southwest Louisiana.
The Gulf of Mexico is an ocean basin and a marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean, largely surrounded by the North American continent. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. The U.S. states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida border the Gulf on the north, which are often referred to as the "Third Coast", in comparison with the U.S. Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
The Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) is a 3,000-mile (4,800 km) inland waterway along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts of the United States, running from Boston, Massachusetts, southward along the Atlantic Seaboard and around the southern tip of Florida, then following the Gulf Coast to Brownsville, Texas. Some sections of the waterway consist of natural inlets, saltwater rivers, bays, and sounds, while others are artificial canals. It provides a navigable route along its length without many of the hazards of travel on the open sea.
The Neches River begins in Van Zandt County west of Rhine Lake and flows for 416 miles (669 km) through east Texas to its mouth on Sabine Lake near the Rainbow Bridge. Two major reservoirs, Lake Palestine and B. A. Steinhagen Reservoir are located on the Neches. Several cities are located along the Neches River Basin, including Tyler, Lufkin, Silsbee, Evadale, Beaumont, Vidor, Port Neches, Nederland, Groves, and Port Arthur.
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. The highest point on the coast is at High Island, where a salt dome raises the elevation to around 40 feet (12 m).
A marsh is a wetland that is dominated by herbaceous rather than woody plant species. Marshes can often be found at the edges of lakes and streams, where they form a transition between the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. They are often dominated by grasses, rushes or reeds. If woody plants are present they tend to be low-growing shrubs. This form of vegetation is what differentiates marshes from other types of wetland such as swamps, which are dominated by trees, and mires, which are wetlands that have accumulated deposits of acidic peat.
The Piney Woods is a temperate coniferous forest terrestrial ecoregion in the Southern United States covering 54,400 square miles (141,000 km2) of East Texas, southern Arkansas, western Louisiana, and southeastern Oklahoma. These coniferous forests are dominated by several species of pine as well as hardwoods including hickory and oak. Historically the most dense part of this forest region was the Big Thicket though the lumber industry dramatically reduced the forest concentration in this area and throughout the Piney Woods during the 19th and 20th centuries. The World Wide Fund for Nature considers the Piney Woods to be one of the critically endangered ecoregions of the United States. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines most of this ecoregion as the South Central Plains.
A paddy field is a flooded parcel of arable land used for growing semiaquatic rice. Paddy cultivation should not be confused with cultivation of deepwater rice, which is grown in flooded conditions with water more than 50 cm (20 in) deep for at least a month. Genetic evidence shows that all forms of paddy rice, both indica and japonica, spring from a domestication of the wild rice Oryza rufipogon that first occurred 8,200–13,500 years ago South of the Yangtze River in present-day China. However, the domesticated indica subspecies currently appears to be a product of the introgression of favorable alleles from japonica at a later date, so that there are possibly several events of cultivation and domestication. Paddy fields are the typical feature of rice farming in east, south and southeast Asia. Fields can be built into steep hillsides as terraces and adjacent to depressed or steeply sloped features such as rivers or marshes. They can require a great deal of labor and materials to create, and need large quantities of water for irrigation. Oxen and water buffalo, adapted for life in wetlands, are important working animals used extensively in paddy field farming.
Away from the coast, the terrain begins to exhibit the rolling hills of East 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.
The East Central Texas forests (33) is a small temperate broadleaf and mixed forests ecoregion almost entirely within the state of Texas, United States. The northern forests perimeter is partially within the southeast Oklahoma border.
The Golden Triangle is an area of extreme Southeast Texas near the Louisiana border.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.
This area holds the annual South Texas State Fair in Beaumont.
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.
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 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. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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, 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 summer months. 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.
Tropical Storm Allison was a tropical storm that devastated southeast Texas in June of the 2001 Atlantic hurricane season. An arguable example of the "brown ocean effect", Allison lasted unusually long for a June storm, remaining tropical or subtropical for 15 days, most of which when the storm was over land dumping torrential rainfall. The storm developed from a tropical wave in the northern Gulf of Mexico on June 4, 2001, and struck the upper Texas coast shortly thereafter. It drifted northward through the state, turned back to the south, and re-entered the Gulf of Mexico. The storm continued to the east-northeast, made landfall on Louisiana, then moved across the southeast United States and Mid-Atlantic. Allison was the first storm since Tropical Storm Frances in 1998 to strike the northern Texas coastline.
Hurricane Carla ranks as the most intense U.S. tropical cyclone landfall on the Hurricane Severity Index. The third named storm and first Category 5 hurricane of the 1961 Atlantic hurricane season, Carla developed from an area of squally weather in the southwestern Caribbean Sea on September 3. Initially a tropical depression, it strengthened slowly while heading northwestward, and by September 5, the system was upgraded to Tropical Storm Carla. About 24 hours later, Carla was upgraded to a hurricane. Shortly thereafter, the storm curved northward while approaching the Yucatán Channel. Late on September 7, Carla entered the Gulf of Mexico while passing just northeast of the Yucatán Peninsula. By early on the following day, the storm became a major hurricane after reaching Category 3 intensity. Resuming its northwestward course, Carla continued intensification and on September 11, it was upgraded to a Category 5 hurricane. Later that day, Carla weakened slightly, but was still a large and intense hurricane when the storm made landfall near Port O'Connor, Texas. It weakened quickly inland and was reduced to a tropical storm on September 12. Heading generally northward, Carla transitioned into an extratropical cyclone on September 13, while centered over southern Oklahoma. Rapidly moving northeastward, Carla's remnants reached the Labrador Sea, Canada and dissipated on September 17, 1961.
Hurricane Anita was a powerful Atlantic hurricane during an otherwise quiet 1977 Atlantic hurricane season. The first tropical cyclone of the season, Anita developed from a tropical wave on August 29 in the north-central Gulf of Mexico. It tracked westward into an area with conditions favorable for further development, and quickly intensified into a hurricane by late on August 30. Initially, Anita was forecast to strike Texas, though a building ridge turned it to the west-southwest. The hurricane rapidly strengthened to attain peak winds of 175 mph (280 km/h), and on September 2 Anita made landfall in eastern Tamaulipas as a Category 5 hurricane. It quickly weakened as it crossed Mexico, and after briefly redeveloping into a tropical depression in the eastern Pacific Ocean, Anita dissipated on September 4 to the south of the Baja California Peninsula.
Tropical Storm Allison was a tropical cyclone that produced severe flooding in the southern United States. The second tropical cyclone and the first named storm of the 1989 Atlantic hurricane season, Allison formed on June 24 in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. Development of Allison was a result of the interaction of a tropical wave and the remnants of Pacific hurricane Hurricane Cosme. It moved south and became a tropical storm on June 26. By June 27, Allison made landfall near Freeport, Texas. Allison quickly weakened to a tropical depression later that day, and transitioned into an extratropical cyclone on the following day.
Hurricane Claudette was the third tropical storm and first hurricane of the 2003 Atlantic hurricane season. A fairly long-lived July Atlantic hurricane, Claudette began as a tropical wave in the eastern Caribbean. It moved quickly westward, brushing past the Yucatán Peninsula before moving northwestward through the Gulf of Mexico. Claudette remained a tropical storm until just before making landfall in Port O'Connor, Texas, when it quickly strengthened to a strong Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. Forecasting of its path and intensity was uncertain throughout its lifetime, resulting in widespread and often unnecessary preparations along its path.
Tropical Storm Claudette caused significant flooding in eastern Texas and western Louisiana in July 1979. The third named storm of the 1979 Atlantic hurricane season, Claudette developed from a tropical wave located east of the Windward Islands on July 16. It gradually strengthened and was upgraded to a tropical storm on July 17 and crossed the northern Leeward Islands later that day. As it neared landfall in Puerto Rico early on July 18, upper-level winds weakened it back to a tropical depression. Claudette remained disorganized and the National Hurricane Center operationally reported that it degenerated back into a tropical wave after crossing Puerto Rico. Late on July 18, the depression struck Dominican Republic, emerged into the Caribbean Sea on the following day. Claudette struck western Cuba on July 21, shortly before reaching the Gulf of Mexico and "regenerating" into a tropical cyclone. By July 23, Claudette regained tropical storm intensity and turned northward toward the Gulf Coast of the United States. The storm made landfall near the Texas-Louisiana border late on July 23 as a moderately strong tropical storm. It weakened slowly and drifted over land, lasting until dissipation in West Virginia on July 29.
Tropical Storm Frances caused extensive flooding in Mexico and Texas in September 1998. The sixth tropical cyclone and sixth named storm of the annual hurricane season, Frances developed from a low pressure area in the Gulf of Mexico on September 8. The cyclone moved northward through the western Gulf of Mexico, making landfall across the central Texas coastline before recurving across the Midwest through southeast Canada and New England. A large tropical cyclone for the Atlantic Basin, yet an average sized system by western Pacific standards, the storm produced heavy rains across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Texas, western Louisiana and the Great Plains.
The Climate of Beaumont, Texas covers the averages and extremes in past weather seen within the city of Beaumont, Texas. The city is within the humid subtropical climate regime, and is within the Piney Woods region of eastern Texas. The area around Beaumont receives the most rainfall in the state: more than 48 inches (1,200 mm) annually. Summers in the area are usually hot and humid, due to the moisture that flows inland off of the Gulf of Mexico. Winters are usually kept mild by the warm gulf waters. Hurricanes also pose a threat to the area. Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Hurricane Rita in 2005, and Hurricane Ike in 2008 were the most recent significant storms to strike.
Texas' weather varies widely, from arid in the west to humid in the east. The huge expanse of Texas encompasses several regions with distinctly different climates: Northern Plains, Trans-Pecos Region, Texas Hill Country, Piney Woods, and South Texas. Generally speaking, the part of Texas that lies to the east of Interstate 35 is subtropical, while the portion that lies to the west of Interstate 35 is arid desert.
Tropical Storm Elena was a weak tropical storm that moved ashore along Texas in the 1979 Atlantic hurricane season. The sixth tropical storm of the season, Elena developed from a tropical wave to the south of Louisiana on August 29. It tracked generally west-northwest, strengthening little before making landfall on Matagorda Island on September 1 as a minimal tropical storm; the storm quickly dissipated over land. Elena dropped moderate rainfall along its path, causing two direct deaths in Houston from drowning; storm damage was minor, amounting to less than $10 million. Lightning from the storm set fire to an oil supertanker in Houston, causing three indirect deaths and 13 injuries.
Tropical Storm Danielle caused considerable flooding in the state of Texas during September 1980. The eighth tropical cyclone and fourth named storm of the 1980 Atlantic hurricane season, Danielle developed from a tropical wave that emerged into the Atlantic Ocean from the west coast of Africa on August 22. Three days later, the tropical wave developed into a tropical depression. Four days later, the depression degenerated into a tropical wave. After tracking westward and entering the Gulf of Mexico, the system gradually developed, and became a tropical depression on September 4. The depression gradually strengthened and became Tropical Storm Danielle only hours before landfall in eastern Texas on September 5. Danielle steadily weakened inland and dissipated two days later.
Tropical Storm Felice was a modest tropical cyclone that lightly affected parts of the Gulf Coast of the United States in mid-September 1970. Spawned by an upper-level trough over the Bahamas, the system crossed the Florida Keys and entered the Gulf of Mexico, where it gradually began to strengthen. Felice was a disorganized storm for its entire duration, plagued by dry air, a lack of deep thunderstorm activity, and an ill-defined center of circulation, but nevertheless managed to peak as a high-end tropical storm with winds just below Category 1 hurricane strength. Tracking northwestward, the storm brushed southern Louisiana on September 15 before making landfall northeast of Galveston, Texas, late that same day. Once ashore, Felice quickly deteriorated as it recurved into the central United States. While over southeastern Oklahoma, however, its remnants still closely resembled a formidable tropical cyclone.
The effects of Tropical Storm Allison in Texas included 23 deaths caused by extreme flooding. The first storm of the 2001 Atlantic hurricane season, Tropical Storm Allison lasted unusually long for a June storm, remaining tropical or subtropical for 15 days. The storm developed from a tropical wave in the northern Gulf of Mexico on June 4, 2001, and struck the Texas coast shortly thereafter. It drifted northward through the state, turned back to the south, and re-entered the Gulf of Mexico. The storm continued to the east-northeast, made landfall on Louisiana, then moved across the southeast United States and Mid-Atlantic. Allison was the first storm since Tropical Storm Frances in 1998 to strike the northern Texas coastline.
The 1941 Texas hurricane, the second storm of the 1941 Atlantic hurricane season, was a large and intense tropical cyclone that struck coastal Texas as a major hurricane in September 1941, causing relatively severe damage. The storm is estimated to have formed in the eastern Gulf of Mexico on September 16. After attaining hurricane strength, it completed a clockwise loop and turned northwestward. The hurricane continued to strengthen until it made landfall near East Matagorda Bay, Texas, with winds of 125 miles per hour (201 km/h), but rapidly weakened as it headed inland. Damage from the storm amounted to about $6.5 million, and crops throughout the region were largely destroyed. The city of Houston suffered extensive damage as the storm passed to the east. The hurricane disrupted activities related to the Louisiana Maneuvers. Later, the system became extratropical and passed over Lake Huron, killing three people in Toronto. Overall, seven people lost their lives due to the cyclone.
Hurricane Debra was a destructive tropical cyclone that developed during the 1959 Atlantic hurricane season. The fifth tropical storm and third hurricane of the season, Debra originated from the interaction of a cold-core low and a tropical wave on July 15. The system was designated a tropical depression on July 23 when it was south of Louisiana and meandered westward while it swiftly intensified into a tropical storm along the Gulf Coast of the United States. A turn towards the northwest became evident as it attained Category 1 hurricane status on the Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale the following day while it organized into a developed storm. As the hurricane curved northward at a slow forward speed, strength was maintained as it approached the coast of Texas as a minimal hurricane. It came ashore during the evening of July 24 local time between Freeport and Galveston, Texas. It rapidly weakened into a tropical storm and later a depression as it moved inland, and dissipated on July 28 while it turned northwestward. The remnant moisture later sparked upper-level thunderstorms in late July and early August.
The 1920 Louisiana hurricane was a strong tropical cyclone that caused significant damage in parts of Louisiana in September 1920. The second tropical storm and hurricane of the annual hurricane season, it formed from an area of disturbed weather on September 16, 1920, northwest of Colombia. The system remained a weak tropical depression as it made landfall on Nicaragua, but later intensified to tropical storm strength as it moved across the Gulf of Honduras, prior to making a second landfall on the Yucatán Peninsula. Once in the Gulf of Mexico, the storm quickly intensified as it moved towards the north-northwest, reaching its peak intensity as a Category 2 hurricane with winds of 100 mph (160 km/h) prior to making landfall near Houma, Louisiana with no change in intensity. Afterwards, it quickly weakened over land, before dissipating on September 23 over eastern Kansas.
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