Aug 29, 2022 - News

Hotter-feeling days expected to increase in Central Texas

Increase in the annual number of days with a heat index above 100°F
Data: First Street Foundation; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Think this summer was hot? Buckle up.

Driving the news: Travis, Williamson and Hays counties are forecast to have 25 more days, on average, that feel like 100 degrees or higher in coming decades, per an analysis by the First Street Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to make climate change more understandable.

Why it matters: Hotter days plus more people equals more competition for water — that thing all of us need to wash dishes and clothes, bathe, and pretty much live.

  • Not to mention it's key for cooling our power plants and growing the food we eat.

Between the lines: The term "climate change" appears only once in the 183-page state water plan adopted last year by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), the chief state water planning agency — and then only in a journal article title in the reference section.

  • "Global warming" doesn't appear at all.
  • State law requires the agency to look back at historical drought data — but there's no mandate that it plan for worse conditions as the climate changes.
  • "Implementing a formal change to how the TWDB considers drought risks will likely require additional financial resources," observed the writers of the current state water plan.

Details: Forecasters expect Travis County to have 61 days that feel like 100 degrees or more in 2023 — and 86 such days in 2053.

The big picture: An "extreme heat belt" — where counties can expect at least one day a year of a heat index value of at least 125 by 2053 — includes Central and East Texas.

  • In just 30 years, climate change will cause a chunk of the U.S. to become a far hotter and more precarious place to be during the summer.
  • The number of Americans exposed to extreme heat like this will grow from 8 million to 107 million.

The bottom line: Time to start saving for that summer house in Maine.


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