Jun 27, 2023 - Climate

Texas heat wave a matter of life and death

Texans are doing anything possible to mitigate the record heat. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The Texas heat wave is now in its third week, and more than 45 million people in the southern U.S. are under heat advisories.

Why it matters: Extreme heat is the top weather-related killer in the U.S., and long-duration heat with little overnight relief makes this wave even more hazardous, Axios' Andrew Freedman reports.

The big picture: The scorching heat impacting Mexico, Texas and parts of New Mexico is forecast to worsen and extend into the week of July 4, per forecast models and National Weather Service.

How it works: The high-pressure area aloft, or heat dome, responsible for this event is moving out of Mexico, parking itself over Texas this week.

  • This is causing the spread of dangerously hot and humid conditions all the way to the Mississippi Valley.

Zoom in: DFW Airport recorded its first 100-degree day on Sunday, a week earlier than usual, but the region had reached triple-digit heat index values several times before then.

  • The airport recorded a heat index of 117° on June 20 — the highest heat index reached on that day since 1980, weather service meteorologist Allison Prater tells Axios.
  • Wednesday's forecast shows a high of 107°, with heat index values hovering around 110°.
  • Highs could dip back into the 90s by the weekend, when rain chances increase, but Prater says the forecast could change closer to the weekend.

Zoom out: In some parts of South Texas this week, heat index values are predicted to reach a "dangerous" 115°-120°, per the weather service.

  • Del Rio, on the Texas-Mexico border, hit a record high for June 25 of 110 degrees Sunday. It was the eighth straight day that the city set a daily record high temperature, according to the NWS.

Reality check: A new report says that some extreme heat events would have been "virtually impossible without human-caused climate change."

What's next: On Wednesday, large parts of Texas are forecast to be hotter than 99% of the planet, per Ben Noll of New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

  • "Only the Sahara Desert & Persian Gulf area will be as hot or hotter than the Lone Star State," Noll tweeted.

Meanwhile: Dallas and Reliant Energy are giving out free fans while supplies last and starting Tuesday will open two cooling centers.

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