Home » Prolonged Heat Wave Baking Texas and the South is Expanding West
Central US Featured Global News News Technology

Prolonged Heat Wave Baking Texas and the South is Expanding West

The National Weather Service forecasts dozens of calendar day heat records — from the Gulf Coast to Arizona — over the next week, for both scorching afternoons and sultry nights. Several records for the entire month of August could also be in jeopardy. Records will be most numerous in Texas, where several locations are enduring historically long streaks of 100-degree weather.

On Thursday, Austin logged its 27th day in a row at or above 100, tying the previous record from 2011. It’s forecast to see highs of around 105 for the next week.

As of Friday, parts of seven states in the South — Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi — are under excessive heat warnings for highs of 100 to 105 degrees and heat indexes as high as 120 degrees. Heat warnings also cover Phoenix and much of southern Arizona into southeast California.

About 60 million people are under heat alerts across the Lower 48, including residents of Phoenix; Dallas; Oklahoma City; Wichita; Little Rock; Shreveport, La.; Jackson, Miss.; Mobile, Ala.; and Memphis.

Corpus Christi, Tex., and New Orleans are forecast to lead major cities in heat index values Friday, topping out at 113 degrees, according to The Washington Post’s extreme heat tracker. On Thursday, New Orleans set an Aug. 3 record high of 98 with a peak heat index of 108. On Monday, the temperature hit 101, matching a July record.

While the hottest readings will dance around the southern United States over the coming days, punishing levels of heat and humidity will persist into next week.

Heat warnings and advisories indicate conditions that can lead to illness or even death from exposure, especially for vulnerable groups including older adults without access to air conditioning, the homeless and outdoors workers. The extended spell of heat only exacerbates concerns, given limited nighttime cooling and the accumulation of heat stress.

State of the heat dome

The highest temperatures outside the Desert Southwest on Friday will focus on a region from Arizona to Louisiana, where more than a dozen record highs are at risk. Cities that could set records include Tucson, El Paso, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Jackson and Mobile.

Much of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas will see high temperatures of 100 to 105 degrees Friday, which are about 10 to 15 degrees above normal and it will feel another 5 to 10 degrees hotter factoring in humidity.

More on the extreme heat waves

Into the weekend, the footprint of exceptional heat will expand to the west and east as the heat dome swells. By Sunday, the dome will be centered around southern parts of Arizona and New Mexico, near the border with Mexico, squashing rainfall chances and intensifying the heat in the Southwest.

By now, Arizona and surrounding locations are usually in the summer monsoon season, which brings increased cloudiness, rain and cooler temperatures to the region. But this year, the moisture-laden air has been largely absent despite some recent rain that has helped firefighting efforts in the California desert and southern Nevada, where the York Fire, California’s largest blaze of 2023, is ongoing.

Through the weekend, high temperatures stay near and above 100 degrees from southern Oklahoma to central Mississippi and to the south. The Weather Service is forecasting heat indexes as high as 122 degrees in west-central Mississippi.

Near the heart of the heat dome, El Paso is expected to flirt with calendar day record highs five of the next seven days, with readings as high as 108 degrees predicted. Tucson is similarly on track to threaten records six out of the next seven days. Phoenix will probably run to and past 115 degrees by Saturday, which would match a calendar day record, and see highs hovering around 115 well into next week.

Notable heat numbers

The guidance suggests that numerous locations could challenge their August monthly high temperature records over the coming 8 days. pic.twitter.com/R0UY4yUKeO— Don Sutherland (@DonSuth89069583) August 2, 2023

Weather historian Don Sutherland compiled a list of cities that may achieve an August record high during this next flare-up of heat. Among them is Phoenix, where the monthly record high is 117 degrees. It could come close to that between Saturday and Wednesday. Other locations, including Albuquerque and Del Rio, may have an even higher chance of setting monthly high temperature records.

In addition to Austin’s record 27 consecutive days of highs of at least 100 degrees, several other notable streaks are ongoing in Texas:

  • College Station has seen 26 100-degree days in a row, tied for second most on record; the number to beat is 30 from 1998.
  • Dallas has an ongoing 100-degree streak of 11 days — which ranks among its top 20 longest.
  • Houston has seen five 100-degree days in a row and is forecast to see highs near the century mark for the next week.

No sign of a break

The forecast for the future remains atypically hot in many of the same locations, which have contended with sweltering heat since late June.

There is some potential for the heat dome to drift southward into Mexico for a time during the second half of next week, but any relief would probably be short-lived.

The most reliable forecasts two weeks into the future suggest nearly wall-to-wall above normal temperatures from Texas to southern California. The heat may even try to expand northward into the western United States again by mid-August.

Source : The Washington News