They say everything is bigger in Texas, and that seems to include the summer heat. The Lone Star State has been in sweltering heat for much of the summer, setting countless records for both the intensity and duration of extreme temperatures.
Texas faced record-breaking “ridiculous” heat all summer
“This borders on ridiculous territory.” David Reese tweeted, A meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Brownsville, Texas.
The extreme warmth stems from the same “heat dome,” or stagnant high-pressure cascade, that helped Phoenix record high temperatures of 110 degrees for a month in a row and become the first major US city to record an average monthly temperature above 100 degrees.
Excessive heat warnings cover most of Texas and extend into Louisiana, Mississippi, and most of Florida. More than 45 million Americans will experience triple-digit heat next week. Between San Angelo and Abilene, Texas, maximum temperatures are expected to reach 110 degrees.
“Extreme heat and humidity will significantly increase the likelihood of heat-related illnesses, especially for those who work or participate in outdoor activities,” the Meteorological Authority warned.
Heat sets records for longevity
Duration of heat sets records in Texas. Austin and College Station hold continuous records at 100 degrees or more for 32 and 31 days, respectively.
Earlier in the summer, El Paso managed a record 44 consecutive days with a temperature of 100 degrees. The city has recorded 54 degrees Celsius so far this year, compared to a record high of 62 degrees in 1994. And that record could be in jeopardy, with many 100-degree days expected.
Dallas has reached at least 105 in six straight days, and is tied for the third-longest such streak ever. With forecast highs of at least 106 degrees over the next six days, it is on track to extend the streak to at least 12 degrees, surpassing the previous record of 11 degrees since 1980.
Neighboring countries feel the gravity of the situation as well. In Louisiana on Monday, Baton Rouge and New Orleans finished with record-breaking 100-degree streaks for 10 days and three days, respectively. In Lafayette, the standard 100-degree streak lasts for 10 days.
Brownsville, a city of less than 200,000 residents located in the southern tip of Texas, also experiences a streak of 100-degree weather for 10 days. Previously, the average number of such days was two per year. For the summer overall, temperatures accumulated 15 hundred days, surpassing the previous record of 12.
Hit 100 may not It seems It’s a particularly impressive feat for a city that averages 97 degrees in mid-August, but the city has very little temperature variance.
“We don’t have a lot of variance unless there is rain, clouds or a tropical system,” Rees of the Met Service said in an interview.
Reese noted that it is difficult for Brownsville to reach 100 degrees because of the humidity in the Gulf of Mexico. While this adds plenty of moisture to the air, it tends to limit how high the actual air temperature can be.
“The sea breeze comes between two o’clock in the afternoon and four o’clock in the afternoon on most days,” he said. This also keeps temperatures in check. “But we got to 100 before the sea breeze started.”
Brownsville has already broken the 100-degree day count in the calendar year. And the current streak of 10 consecutive days of 100 degrees Celsius heat is more than double the previous record!
Harlingen currently holds the 7th place for the number of 100-degree days in the year, while McAllen is 9th.
(during 8-8-23) pic.twitter.com/t832wvBEYW
– NWS Brownsville (@NWSBrownsville) August 9, 2023
The heat and the lack of rain combine to sap the land of moisture.
“The biggest impacts we saw here involved an extended period of drought,” Rees said. “We’ve had a severe drought in our western counties near the Rio Grande River, especially in the west with…the drought going on there.”
Fifty-two percent of Texas have a “moderate” or worse drought.
Heat also affects human health.
“We’ve seen reports of greater numbers of heat-related illnesses than in the past (many) summers,” Reese said.
Unfortunately, there does not seem to be an immediate end in sight.
“Not at this time,” Reese said. “A lot of the things we have, at least for next week, are more of the same.”
Jason Samino contributed to this report.