Extreme Temperature Diary- Monday May 20th, 2024/Main Topic: Double Whammy…Houston Faces Consequences from Climate Fueled Storms and Now a Heatwave

Brutal heat swells across Texas as many remain without power in Houston – The Washington Post

Brutal heat swells across Texas as many remain without power in Houston

Heat-related illness is a growing danger for those without air-conditioning after last Thursday’s violent storms. South Texas will also see extreme heat.

By Ian Livingston

More than 200,000 homes and businesses are still without power around Houston, four days after a violent storm complex killed seven people. Meanwhile, excessive heat is building over Texas, placing many residents — especially vulnerable groups like older adults — in danger from the soaring temperatures.

For those without access to air-conditioning, it’s well-established that prolonged periods of heat increase the risk of illness or even death. Temperatures in Houston reached 90 degrees over the weekend and are forecast to climb as this week progresses.

CenterPoint Energy, the utility serving the area, says it is making steady progress in restoring power to the nearly 900,000 customers who were affected by the storm. Over 75 percent have their power back and the utility’s goal is for nearly full restoration by Wednesday evening. To assist people who still lack air-conditioning, the city of Houston has opened cooling centers and water-distribution locations.

The effort to finish the power restoration in Houston cannot come fast enough as heat indexes — a measure of how hot it feels when factoring in humidity — may reach 100 degrees there in the days ahead and 105 by the weekend.

As muggy as it will be in Houston, the heat will be even more brutal in South Texas, with record-testing highs of at least 105 to 110 degrees. On Sunday, temperatures shot up as high as 113 near Texas’s border with Mexico.

Houston heat

Around Houston, highs of at least 89 or 90 degrees are forecast for the foreseeable future.

“Summer is arriving early. Afternoon heat indices will be near 100°F all week long,” the National Weather Service office serving the Houston area wrote on X. “Early season heat is especially dangerous as we haven’t had time to adjust to the temperatures.”

By the weekend, when highs may climb into the mid-90s, records could be threatened.

High humidity will only makes things worse.

Heat indexes near 105 could occur this weekend and could last for days.

Nighttime lows in the upper 70s and low 80s — running 5 to 10 degrees above normal — will offer minimal relief from the sauna-like afternoons and could also threaten records by the weekend.

South Texas blowtorch

To the south and southwest of Houston, the heat will be particularly extreme.

“Dangerous heat is expected heading into Memorial Day weekend across Deep South Texas,” the Weather Service office in Brownsville wrote on X.

The Weather Service’s new HeatRisk product highlights an expansion and entrenchment of major to extreme impacts in much of the southern part of the state.

In Houston, the HeatRisk level — which can range from 0 to 4 — is forecast to climb from Level 1 to Level 3 by the weekend. Cities including San Antonio and Brownsville are expected to reach Level 4.

In Laredo, about two hours southwest of San Antonio at the border with Mexico, the HeatRisk is expected to be at Level 4 for five straight days between Wednesday and Sunday. Laredo is expected to hit 107 on Friday, 108 on Saturday and 109 on Sunday — which all would be record highs.

“This level of rare and/or long-duration extreme heat with little to no overnight relief affects anyone without effective cooling and/or adequate hydration,” the Weather Service wrote.

Del Rio, on the Rio Grande, is forecast to test record highs on five of the next seven days, reaching at least 104 for the duration.

Heat index values of 105 to 110 will be common through midweek, especially in the Rio Grande Valley. By later in the week, they may spike to 115 or 120. And on many mornings, heat indexes may not get below 90.

While the record heat will be focused in South Texas, highs over 100 may swell as far north as the Texas Panhandle on Monday, where some records could fall.

When will it end?

It could be a while until the region feels much relief. Perhaps a very long while.

As summer approaches, it becomes more and more difficult for cold fronts to push deep into Texas. Moreover, the summer outlook is a hot one for most of the country.

A relentless zone of high pressure — or heat dome — centered over Mexico and extending into South Texas is forecast to persist into at least early next week. There’s no real sign of a pattern shift other than perhaps the heat dome drifting westward somewhat.

In addition, widespread drought in Mexico — which has crept into parts of western Texas and southern New Mexico — helps intensify the heat, as does human-caused climate change. In short, there’s little in the way of an extended and punishing period of hot weather ahead.

Jason Samenow contributed to this report.

By Ian Livingston Ian Livingston is a forecaster/photographer and information lead for the Capital Weather Gang. By day, Ian is a defense and national security researcher at a D.C. think tank. Twitter

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