Subscribe to Axios Houston

Get smarter, faster with a daily look at the biggest stories in Houston

iPhone showing Axios Houston newsletter on the Axios app
Jay R. Jordan
Jan 27, 2023 - News

What to watch for as Whitmire runs for mayor

Texas state Sen. John Whitmire, wearing a black suit with a red tie, speaks during a press conference

Democratic state Sen. John Whitmire. Photo: Sergio Flores/Bloomberg via Getty Images

All eyes are on state Sen. John Whitmire, a Democrat running for Houston mayor, as he legislates and campaigns at the same time.

Catch up fast: The Houston mayoral election isn't until November, but several candidates, in addition to Whitmire, have filed the paperwork to run, per the Houston Chronicle: Amanda Edwards, Chris Hollins, Lee Kaplan, Naoufal Houjami, Raykey Tezino and Robin Williams.

Jay R. Jordan
Jan 26, 2023 - News

Houston aims to curb sidewalk islands

A sidewalk abruptly ends

Where the sidewalk ends. Photo: Jay R. Jordan/Axios

Houston city leaders hope a new ordinance will cut down on our infamous sidewalks to nowhere.

Catch up quick: In Houston, sidewalks are only built where there's new construction.

Houston's 10 James Beard Award semifinalists

Illustration of a first place ribbon with a gold plate at the center.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Several Houston chefs and restaurants got some major nods from the prestigious James Beard Foundation, which released its semifinalist list Wednesday.

Why it matters: The James Beard awards are considered the Oscars of the food world. Being on the list equates to having made exceptional culinary achievements.

Pickup trucks have ballooned over the years

Graphic: Will Chase/Axios
Graphic: Will Chase/Axios

What we use our pickups for is changing radically — even as trucks remain bound up in Texas' self-image of rugged independence.

The big picture: Perhaps no vehicle is more associated with Texas than the Ford F-150, consistently our state's top-selling pickup.

Zoom in: In Houston, trucks and SUVs dominate the market, accounting for three out of every four vehicles sold, according to TexAuto Facts.

  • The Ford-F Series is the most popular vehicle in Houston, with more than 18,000 new registered vehicles from January 2022 to November 2022, according to S&P Global Mobility.

Between the lines: There's a discrepancy between the myth of the pickup truck and its actual use, one that mirrors the recent history of a fast-suburbanizing Texas.

  • As pickups transitioned from farm and ranch workhorses to lifestyle vehicles, their design shifted accordingly: Cabs expanded to accommodate more passengers, while beds shrank, per a new Axios Visuals special project.

What they're saying: "Today, personality and imagery are playing an even more important role in how consumers choose which truck is right for them," Strategic Vision researcher Alexander Edwards tells Axios.

  • 40% of F-150 owners describe their vehicle as "powerful," compared to 15% for other car owners, per the firm.
  • Traits declining in popularity: "functional," "reliable," "economical."
  • Traits increasing in popularity: "modern," "sophisticated," "technologically advanced."

By the numbers: The first generation of F-150s were 36% cab and 64% bed by length.

  • By 2021, the ratio had flipped, with 63% cab and 37% bed, as trucks were being used more for carrying people than lumber, rubble or bags of concrete.
  • The 2023 F-150’s lower trims cost between $34,000 and $42,000, but high-end models can run up to $85,000.

What's next: The electric truck.

  • Tesla is rolling out its Cybertruck, Rivian sells the R1T, and Ford delivered more than 13,000 of its F-150 Lightning trucks in 2022.
  • Like some of their conventional counterparts, these vehicles have a luxury sensibility and high price points — the R1T starts at $70,000.

The safety angle

Asher Price
Jan 25, 2023 - News

Texas GOP seeks to ban Chinese property purchases

Photo illustration of Texas Governor Greg Abbott with lines radiating from him.

Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: Bill Clark/Getty Images

Amping up rhetoric against China, Gov. Greg Abbott and other Texas officials are threatening to bar Chinese nationals — as well as those from Iran, North Korea and Russia — from buying property in Texas.

The big picture: Suspicions about connections between the Chinese government and Chinese companies and individuals are running red hot, from Washington to state capitols across the country.

Severe storms threaten Gulf Coast after tornadoes hit Houston

A photo showing damage from a reported tornado in Houston, Texas.

Photo: City of Houston Fire Department Chief Samuel Peña/Twitter

A "multi-hazard storm system" that triggered multiple reports of damage from tornadoes and flooding in and near Houston on Tuesday is threatening to unleash further damage across the Gulf Coast.

The latest: Tornado risks remained as more than 15 million people in Gulf Coast areas including Houston, New Orleans and parts of Alabama were under threat from the storm, which was sweeping through Mississippi coastal communities as it pushed northeastward overnight.

Shafaq Patel
Jan 24, 2023 - Politics

How to spend our share of the state surplus

Illustration of a pattern of stacks of money.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

It's raining money here in Texas. What could be in it for Houston?

Driving the news: Texas is sitting on an unprecedented $32.7 billion state surplus.

Jay R. Jordan
Jan 24, 2023 - News

Houston under severe weather threat Tuesday

A car splashes water on a partially flooded roadway in Galveston

Low-lying areas could flood with heavy rains that may be pushing through Houston today. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

A bout of severe weather could be in store for Houston on Tuesday, so pack the umbrella.

Driving the news: A cold front pushing through the state could bring thunderstorms and other types of severe weather through the evening.

Threat level: The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center gives Houston a slight risk (a 2 on a scale of 5) for severe weather, with higher risks for communities generally south of Harris County.

  • The main threats are tornadoes and heavy rainfall, although there's potential for hail as well.
  • The storms will be quick-moving, meteorologists say, but localized heavy rainfall could flood streets and low-lying areas.
  • Houston will likely see 2 to 3 inches of rain, with higher amounts in some areas.

Details: Severe weather is expected to hit Houston between 9am and 7pm Tuesday, but keep an eye on things, especially from noon to 4pm when the front itself passes overhead.

  • After the storms, we'll see cooler weather and sunny skies through the rest of the week.
  • Last January, Houston saw a whopping 9.42 inches of rain, well above the normal 2 to 4 inches seen this time of year. This year, however, we've received only 1.69 inches of rain so far.

Looking ahead: Forecasters are eyeing another round of storms this weekend as southerly winds kick up moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.

  • "It should be fairly widespread showers and storms," said Tim Cady, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Houston. "The [weekend] system doesn't look as potent as the one we're dealing with [Tuesday]."
  • Rain should clear out by Monday, Cady said.

💭 Our thought bubble: Be sure to keep up with the National Weather Service and your go-to broadcaster for updates on when and where the storms will crop up.

Dig deeper: The South is set up for more seasonal rainfall in the summer months, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

Yes, but: The total rainfall predicted between now and the end of April is still below average despite the threat of severe weather this week.