Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024|
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Mateo G., 7, spins around as he jumps in the water at the Rosewood splash pad in East Austin Monday, June 26, 2023. (Mikala Compton/Austin American-Statesman via AP)
DALLAS — Scorching temperatures brought on by a “heat dome” have taxed the Texas power grid and threaten to bring record highs to the state before they are expected to expand to other parts of the U.S. during the coming week, putting even more people at risk.
“Going forward, that heat is going to expand … north to Kansas City and the entire state of Oklahoma, into the Mississippi Valley … to the far western Florida Panhandle and parts of western Alabama,” while remaining over Texas, said Bob Oravec, lead forecaster with the National Weather Service.
Record high temperatures around 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) are forecast in parts of western Texas on Monday, and relief is not expected before the Fourth of July holiday, Oravec said.
Cori Iadonisi, of Dallas, summed up the weather simply: “It’s just too hot here.”
Iadonisi, 40, said she often urges local friends to visit her native Washington state to beat the heat in the summer.
“You can’t go outside,” Iadonisi said of the hot months in Texas. “You can’t go for a walk.”
What is a heat dome?
A heat dome 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, Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said.
“By the time we get into the middle of summer, it’s hard to get the hot air aloft,” said Nielsen-Gammon, a professor at Texas A&M’s College of Atmospheric Sciences. “If it’s going to happen, this is the time of year it will.”
Nielsen-Gammon said July and August don’t have as much sunlight because the sun is retreating from the summer solstice, which was Wednesday.
“One thing that is a little unusual about this heat wave is we had a fairly wet April and May, and usually that extra moisture serves as an air conditioner,” Nielsen-Gammon said. ”But the air aloft is so hot that it wasn’t able to prevent the heat wave from occurring and, in fact, added a bit to the humidity.”
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