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Texas Infrastructure Melting Under Scorching Heat Wave

Large parts of Texas, including Dallas, are experiencing scorching temperatures reaching a peak of 107 degrees Fahrenheit, with heat indices as high as 115 degrees. The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat advisory for North Texas, and concerns have been raised about the state’s power grid and the possibility of rolling blackouts. Some cities that serve as major population centers, like Dallas, have established cooling centers and partnered with energy companies to distribute free cooling fans to residents.

DALLAS NEWS: Texas may reach temperatures hotter than 99% of the world as dangerous heat wave persists

By Lana Ferguson; June 27, 2023

DALLAS — Large swaths of Texas are forecast to be hotter than 99% of the world Wednesday as Dallas’ stretch of scorching hot days was expected to reach a peak of 107 degrees, according to meteorologists.

The heat index value, which measures what it feels like outside based on air temperature and humidity, for Dallas could be as high as 115, according to KXAS-TV.

The National Weather Service in Fort Worth issued an excessive heat advisory for most of North Texas, including Dallas, Collin, Denton and Tarrant counties, though 8 p.m. Central time Wednesday. The weather service’s excessive heat warning said parts of Texas will experience “high temperatures from 105 to 110 in the west and heat indices as high as 115 in the east.”

This week’s heat is also affecting programs and businesses: the Cedar Ridge Preserve limited its hours this week and Fort Worth canceled the afternoon time slot of its daily cattle drives through the Stockyards for the entirety of July.

“Only the Sahara Desert & Persian Gulf area will be as hot or hotter than the Lone Star State,” Ben Noll, a meteorologist with New Zealand’s National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research, tweeted last week, saying Texas would be hotter than 99% of the rest of the world.

The forecast elicited some light-hearted responses on Twitter like, “Everything’s bigger in Texas … including our heat waves,” and “If I owned Hell and Texas, I’d rent out Texas and live in Hell” while also raising concerns about the state’s power grid and whether rolling blackouts would occur.

ERCOT, the state’s main grid operator, has issued a weather watch through Friday in anticipation of high electricity demand amid hot conditions. This does not mean rolling blackouts are expected or that the operator will call for energy conservation.

Energy consultant Doug Lewin told The Dallas Morning News during ERCOT’s first-ever weather watch earlier this month that demand is “shockingly high for this early, but it is not out of the realm of what was expected this summer.”

Dallas trying to help residents beat the heat

The city of Dallas partnered with Reliant Energy to create cooling centers at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, 2922 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., and the West Dallas Multipurpose Center, 2828 Fish Trap Road, that are open during the day. Residents can sign up to receive a free cooling fan at these centers while supplies last.

Residents are also encouraged to seek relief in public facilities, such as the city’s recreation centers and libraries, during their regular business hours.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit has 18 air-conditioned cooling centers to keep the public cool from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“As the weather gets worse, we definitely make sure all of our many transit centers are open,” DART spokesman Gordon Shattles said.

Most cooling stations will have water fountains and operate vending machines to encourage the best heat safety practices.

DART previously teamed up with The Salvation Army and directed riders to their cooling centers.

First responders throughout Dallas-Fort Worth have been especially busy in recent days responding patients suffering from heat-related illnesses, including children in hot cars.

Dallas Fire-Rescue responded to nine environmental emergency calls — with four people taken to the hospital — by 4 p.m. Tuesday, department spokesperson Jason Evans said.

In May, Dallas Fire-Rescue responded to 19 environmental emergency calls. The department has already responded to 133 of the same types of calls so far this month.

MedStar, which provides emergency medical services to Fort Worth and areas surrounding the city, said by Tuesday afternoon, it had treated 12 patients for heat-related illnesses, with 10 of them needing further treatment at hospitals. One of those patients was in critical condition.

MedStar on Monday treated 25 patients, which was the most in one day so far this year, department spokesman Matt Zavadsky said.

The Dallas County Sheriff’s Office also has a courtesy patrol that can help motorists having car trouble to hopefully get them out of the heat sooner by providing help with flat tires, running out of gas and more. The dispatch number to call is (214) 320-4444.

The three hottest cities in the nation Tuesday were in Texas, according to a report from The Washington Post, with Dallas being the hottest followed by Fort Worth and Austin. San Antonio and Houston were the fifth- and sixth-hottest, respectively. The report said 52 million people in the United States may be exposed to dangerous heat that day.

The oppressive weather cooking Texas this week is caused by a heat dome, The Associated Press reported, explaining the situation occurs when “stationary high pressure with warm air combines with warmer than usual air in the Gulf of Mexico and heat from the sun that is nearly directly overhead.”

A heat dome is created when the atmosphere acts almost like a lid, trapping hot ocean air into a certain space, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Temperatures in Dallas broke 100 degrees on Sunday, the first triple-digit day in the city this year. The weather service said that feat came about a week earlier than typical.

The hottest recorded temperature in Dallas on June 28 was 112 degrees in 1980, according to weather service records. The weather service almanac shows 93 degrees as the “normal” temperature for this date.

Between 2012 and 2022, Dallas-Fort Worth experienced roughly 20 triple-digit temperature days a year on average, according to historic weather data. There was a sharp increase from eight 100-degree-plus days in 2021 to 47 of them last year. The next highest number of 100-degree days in the last decade was 34 in 2012.

Weather service meteorologist Juan Hernandez told the Morning News that it’s hard to predict whether the rest of the summer in North Texas will be as hot these last few days.

“This current heat wave will be coming to an end by late this week,” he said. “By the weekend, things should be back to normal.”

Possible storms this weekend would provide additional relief by cooling temperatures down, Hernandez said.


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