“Everything’s bigger in Texas,” a widely known saying, may very well be true when it comes to the size of the state, but is everything in Texas really bigger? Researching the Lone Star state, the second largest state in the nation, Dallas seemed to be the largest city as well as the center of it all; and it also could be used as a good representation of the state’s overall average climate. The Dallas “metroplex is located in North Central Texas, approximately 250 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico” (Dallas/Fort Worth Climatology). To appreciate the large and intricate city, it is valuable to know the climate, vegetation, soils, landforms, and the environmental issues that are present in Dallas, and see how they affect one another. The temperature during the summer months may be “bigger” or higher than your typical state, but exploring deeper into Dallas’s physical geography, will help conjure present what makes up it’s physical attributes, and most importantly, why.
After living in Dallas all of my life, I have come to recognize the range of temperature from month to month, as well as the precipitation that is typically received. The majority of Texas is a warm-temperature climate zone (Physical Features Influencing Vegetation in Texas); however, the Dallas-Fort Worth area can more specifically be described as having a humid subtropical climate, with hot summers (Dallas/Fort Worth Climatology). It can also be characterized as continental because of the wide range of annual temperature, and the scorching summers is caused by the westerlies and the low humidity (Dallas/Fort Worth Climatology). Observing the Dallas climograph, it can be inferred that the average precipitation and temperature have a direct relationship. Based on the annual temperature data, it can also be concieved that the summer highs reach way into the high 90’s, with cooler nights around the mid 70’s (NWS). Rainfall typically occurs during nighttime in Dallas, and during the summer the maximum highs normally last three to five days, and are interrupted by thunderstorms (Dallas/Fort Worth Climatology). The rainfall that occurs during the winter however is “associated with large storm systems moving from west to east under the influence of the westerly winds” (Climate Zones). So, it can be assumed that the westerlies cause the average annual precipication, which is generally higher during summer
months so as to cool down and break up the heat spells. These blazing summers may be fun for swimming and getting a tan, but how does it affect the vegetation?
The average precipitation that Dallas, Texas receives yearly is about 33.3 inches (Weather Base). This amount of annual rainfall can be directly correlated to “the natural vegetation prior to settlement [which] was a mosaic of tall grass prairie on clay soils (the Blackland and Coastal Prairies), oak woodlands on sandy soils, and juniper-oak woodlands on caliche (the Post Oak Savanna and Cross Timbers)” (Physical Features Influencing Vegetation in Texas). Texas’s vegetation, in general, gradually becomes more arid as you move east to west (Escape to Texas). Dallas, located in about central Texas, is mainly composed of grassland, however as you move westward the vegetation changes to desert (Escape to Texas). “The diversity of Texas is evident in vegetation types, which range from temperate and subtropical forests to grasslands, shrublands and deserts” (Physical Features Influencing Vegetation in Texas). Farming and ranching is a big part of Texas, although it is not apart of the actual city area of Dallas, it is still an essential part of Texas. “Agriculture has profoundly influence[d] the landscapes of Texas in many ways” (Physical Features Influencing Vegetation in Texas). Cattle ranching is typically seen in the areas surrounding the big cities, and the livestock encourages the spreading of “brush...