Monday, August 19, 2019
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20190313 WT Weather Softball Canada vs USA MILLER IMG 6737Terry Hirschfeld was in her Kentucky home when she started making a list of “warm states.” She was tired of the cold.
Texas made her short list.

Now that she and her husband are here living on South Padre Island, they are thrilled that they chose Texas over their other two finalists – Arizona and Florida.

“We love it here,” Hirschfeld said during the WinterFest at South Padre Island.

The beautiful subtropical weather of South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley is definitely one of the biggest attractions for Winter Texans. There could be as much as a 100-degree difference between South Texas and places like Northern Minnesota or South Dakota.

I'm thawing out right now,” said Fred Mastellar, bus driver for Hart Travel, a tour company that brings 25-30 Winter Texans to the Valley as one of their stops on a multi-week tour. Speaking of the weather when he left Minnesota, Mastellar said, “This was the worst weather to drive in that I've ever had to deal with.”

20190313 WT Weather GOLFERS Miller IMG 9335The group of Winter Texans hail from Minnesota and South Dakota. Ernie Hart, owner of the company, said that each year the group tries to talk him into staying in the Valley for longer periods of time. He added that he may be convinced after the most recent weather in Minnesota.

The Rio Grande Valley is definitely a joy to live in, especially if the other option includes snow, ice and all things frozen. The average high between December and February runs from 70-74 degrees (but can reach into the 80s) and lows are generally between 49 and 54 – with the token warning once a year that a frost is on its way, sending full-time residents scurrying to cover their outdoor plants.

The mild winter temperatures – and no snow – allows folks to get out and be active during the winter months. For Winter Texans that means playing golf, racing RC cars, playing pickleball, shuffleboard, horseshoes, cycling, bird watching and many other outdoor activities – often with temperatures in the 70s.

Not only is there joy in leaving the frozen tundras, but there are also health benefits. Jim McDermid of Minnesota said he has heart and vascular disease and in the Valley the weather is good enough that he can walk almost every day and the land is flat enough that he does not have to climb while he walks.

Ed Martens runs the Senior Texan Softball League and its all-star games every March. He said he has benefited from his years of living in the Valley, even though he may not be playing softball any more. “It keeps me active,” he said. “There's no way I want to live where it's snowing and frozen. I love that we can play softball pretty much all year.”

The nation's warmest “Polar Bear Dip” also takes place on South Padre Island every Jan. 1. Hundreds of Winter Texans join locals sprinting into the Gulf for a quick plunge. The event is highly popular in areas where the courageous jump into 35-degree water. That's something that South Texas “dippers” don't have to worry about.

20190313 WT Weather Borderfest GU6C0A1148The weather is also perfect for golf during the Winter Texan months. Several parks have groups that schedule scrambles on a weekly basis to play one of more than 20 different courses spread throughout the Valley.

“We have perfect weather for our Winter Texan friends to come and play a round, something they certainly couldn't do back home during the same time,” said Carlos Espinosa, golf director at Palm View Golf Course in McAllen. “They keep our business going during those months and we are glad to accommodate them.

An unofficial record of -38 degrees was recorded on Jan. 19 in Illinois this year, as much of the Midwest plunged into sub-zero temperatures. On that same day in Mission, Texas the high was 74 degrees – a 112-degree difference.

“There's no sense in staying in weather like that,” former Kansas resident Dorothy Plowman recalls telling her husband.

“There's nothing here for us here; there are no neighbors nearby and I'm sick and tired of all this cold. We moved to Texas and it's the best thing we could've done.”

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