Jun 27, 2023 - News

Heat-related illness calls skyrocket in Houston

A red ambulance

Houston paramedics have been busy in June. Photo: Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images

The Houston Fire Department has seen a sharp increase in heat-related illness calls as the city continues to grapple with extreme temperatures.

Driving the news: HFD paramedics responded to 416 heat illness calls from June 1 to 23, per department officials.

  • That's compared to 99 such calls in May and 38 in April.
  • "HFD averages three heat-related incidents daily," HFD spokesperson Mario Gallegos tells Axios. "But as the temperature has increased, the numbers have increased."

Yes, but: There have been zero heat-related deaths in Harris County in 2023 as of Monday morning, per the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.

Why it matters: Extreme heat is the top weather-related killer in the U.S. during a typical year, and the long duration of this event is increasing the risks since many areas continue to see overnight lows failing to drop below the low 80s, Axios' Andrew Freedman reports.

  • This prevents people from getting overnight relief and can be a big factor in causing heat-related illnesses.

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

  • This is pushing the heat well into the South, from West Texas to Mississippi.
  • Records are likely to be broken again in Texas, where daytime high temperatures will soar well into the triple digits.

Threat level: The prospect of Texas' largest cities seeing near-record or record-high temperatures on consecutive days could mean the biggest test of the state's electrical grid so far during this heat wave.

  • The Electric Reliability Council of Texas issued another weather watch for this week, indicating a heightened awareness of energy demand and supply issues.
  • ERCOT is forecasting the possibility of setting a new peak in electricity demand this week, only days after a record was set on June 19.

The bottom line: Be prepared to hunker down indoors for a bit longer.


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