What’s the best way to beat this crazy heat?

Q: Climatically, what is the best place to live in Texas?

James Mikulka, New York

a: Even by Texas meteorological extreme standards, this summer has been a bit of a mystery, hasn’t it? In Austin, where Texas, like the Wicked Witch of the West, was slowly melting, some impressive records were set: the hottest July in recorded history (average temperature: 90.8 degrees), and the number of consecutive days at 105 degrees or higher (11 ) Consecutive days with a temperature of 100 degrees or more (45), the highest temperature index ever reached (118 degrees, on June 21), and others.

Much of the state saw similarly extreme temperatures, perhaps made worse by the refreshing memory of the summer of 2022, the second hottest in recorded history. (At press time, 2023 is on track to be passed!) As local writer Jeff Goodell starkly puts it in his unfortunately well-timed new book, Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet Texas is the “belly of the beast” when it comes to our changing global climate.

The Texan was probably a little disturbed by all of the above, and found himself shirtless under a ceiling fan, dreaming of asking you, Mr. Mikulka. Imagine that we lived within the borders of Texas as it was in the mid-nineteenth century, and thought it might be nice to travel to Aspen, in what is now Colorado, or to Taos, in what is now New Mexico. Both areas lie within the boundaries of territory claimed by the Republic of Texas, and boast average summer highs in the 70s and very comfortable 80s.

But when the Texan was jolted out of his daydream by the subtle tickling sensation produced by a drop of sweat dangling from the tip of his nose, his thoughts turned to the small Panhandle town of Canyon, the gateway to beautiful Palo Duro Canyon State Park, which is actually within our modern borders. Summer high temperatures average around 90 degrees (usually accompanied by acceptable humidity levels), but average low temperatures are in the mid-60s, making the contrast between day and night very refreshing.

The Texanist can also recommend casting bets at Balmorhea State Park in Toyahvale. It has a cool, spring-fed pool, which is always between 72 and 76 degrees, and is located in the foothills of the Davis Mountains in West Texas, which in itself provides a nice respite from the worst of the temperatures.

Or, as crazy as it may sound, you can just go to Houston. If you are
If you sell your shares in the Galleria Mall, you will be able to spend the rest of your years with all your clothing, gaming and banking needs met within walking distance and air conditioning. (Your culinary needs, too, as long as you enjoy the idea of ​​exploring all of the 250-plus items on The Cheesecake Factory’s global menu.) Plus, you can invite your friends to wander the frozen surface of the mall’s newly renovated ice. The rink, a Texan can say with some confidence, looks pretty nice on an August afternoon. This scenario could also work in Dallas, whose Galleria also has an ice skating rink.

Of course, heat isn’t the only climate factor plaguing the Lone Star State. We also regularly encounter extreme cold, intense rain, severe drought, severe floods, high winds, and occasional bouts of intense hot air from the mouths of those giving good advice and careful observations.

When asked for his opinion, Texas A&M University climate scientist John Nielsen-Gammon noted that almost anywhere in Texas would require some kind of trade-off. “On South Padre Island, you’ll mostly avoid all of the above except hurricanes,” he said. Nielsen-Gammon suggested that those hoping to avoid seeing their homes swept away by a twenty-foot storm surge might want to try somewhere in the relatively temperate Big Bend region. However, he noted, “The Alps are on average fifty days below freezing each year, so they have an actual winter.”

Not to mention mountain lions, rattlesnakes, bears, and, in the harbor at least, artistic coastal species. So the Texan advises you to choose your poison carefully, Mr. Mikulka.

Q: What is your favorite cold remedy to beat the heat? I’m obsessed with aguas fresca, shaved ice, and chilled watermelon myself.

John Aldrich, Austin

a: Excellent choices all, Mr. Aldrich. The Texan himself is a fan of aguas fresca (mango is his favorite), shaved ice (cantaloupe or coconut), and cold watermelon (the Black Diamond variety, with a prominent orange flavor).
A yellow field spot begs seductively: “Eat me! Eat me!” I’m ready.” Additionally, the Texan has been known to refresh himself with snow cones (Rainbow), South Texas-style raspas (Shamango), and New Orleans-style snowballs (Bananas Foster and Coffee). If he’s looking to increase Refreshed by a little drink, he’s also partial to frozen daiquiris (piña coladas), actual piña coladas, frozen margaritas, lime Shelton cocktails, tequila-infused ranch water, Ruby Red Palomas, Ruby Red Mezcal Palomas, and, occasionally, an ice-cold beer or two.

He also found that the hot months were made more bearable by Hill Country peaches (the Texas man was sad about the meager crop this year and is already hoping for a better harvest next time) and Pecos cantaloupes, the sweetest of the cantaloupes. Things this side of Ms. Texanist back in the courtship years. (By the way, both of these fruity Texas treasures make a good ice cream topping.) The Texan is also a big fan of lying on a tile floor in his birthday suit, the depiction of which, to his great relief, was unreal ‘t in the running for the illustration accompanying this column.

Q: What should I do if the power goes out for more than a few hours in the summer? Is opening the windows enough or am I in danger?

@FunkyTexasCow, via X, formerly known as Twitter

a: If you, Mr. or Mrs. FunkyTexasCow, are in the Canyon, Big Bend, or anywhere nearby, it’s entirely possible that simply opening the windows will meet all your physical needs. However, if you’re located in almost any other part of the state, you may want to take advantage of more radical means of regulating the temperature — such as booking a well-air-conditioned room at a nearby hotel. There are some problems that even the coldest tile floor in Texas won’t solve.

Do you have a question for the Texan? He’s always available here. Make sure you tell him where you are from.

This article originally appeared in the October 2023 issue of the magazine Texas Monthly. Subscribe today.

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