The temperatures in Texas and the Southern Plains are about to be turned up during an already historically hot summer.
The heat will ratchet up just days after the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) twice issued conservation appeals (Monday and Wednesday), its power supply pushed to the brink. The state’s beleaguered grid is sure to be tested again.
The heat will also worsen an intensifying drought over much of the Lone Star State, which has rapidly expanded into eastern Oklahoma and Arkansas.
🚨 Important info from @NOAA @NWS re/ upcoming excessive heat 🚨— MRCC (@MidwestClimate) July 14, 2022
While mid to late July is the warmest time of year for the central U.S, many will likely see well above-normal temperatures for a long stretch. Stay safe and keep informed. #WeatherReady pic.twitter.com/1bHwpSFf0r
The extreme heat, exacerbated by human-caused climate change, shows little sign of relenting through at least the end of July even as it waxes and wanes every few days.
How hot will it get and for how long?
Predictability is “high” for widespread heat in the central states between Sunday and Wednesday, the Weather Service writes. And it has declared a moderate to high risk of excessive heat as far out as the end of July.
Computer models show a heat dome or sprawling zone of high pressure centered near the Four Corners flexing eastward and not really budging for the next one to two weeks. The sinking air beneath these heat domes clears the air of clouds and allows the sun to beat down relentlessly.
The same areas underneath this heat dome are also affected by the expanding and worsening drought. The dry ground, sapped of moisture, heats up particularly fast.
Triple-digit highs are forecast for most of the area from Texas to Kansas through the weekend, before the hottest conditions arrive Tuesday and Wednesday. That’s when many areas along and just west of Interstate 35 could see highs close to 105 degrees — and possibly higher in some locations.
Some of this heat will also bleed into northern Louisiana, Arkansas and Missouri at times.
Here are current forecast highs for seven cities expected to see highs reach at least 100:
- San Antonio — Sunday: 101 | Monday: 101 | Tuesday: 102 | Wednesday: 103
- Austin — Sunday: 102 | Monday: 101 | Tuesday: 103 | Wednesday: 103
- Dallas — Sunday: 104 | Monday: 104 | Tuesday: 104 | Wednesday: 105
- Oklahoma City — Sunday: 102 | Monday: 104 | Tuesday: 107 | Wednesday: 105
- Wichita — Sunday: 98 | Monday: 101| Tuesday: 105 | Wednesday: 100
- Little Rock — Sunday: 95 | Monday: 97| Tuesday: 100 | Wednesday: 102
- Kansas City, Mo. — Sunday: 90 | Monday: 96 | Tuesday: 101 | Wednesday: 95
Computer models project temperatures could be several degrees hotter than this — flirting with 110 degrees in some places — but have shown a bias of being a bit too hot in their long-range forecasts.
How hot it’s been in Texas
The heat will pile on what’s already been a record-setting summer.
San Antonio, Houston, Waco and Austin are all having their hottest summers on record, with average highs between 98 and 102 degrees, or about 5 to 8 degrees above normal.
Here are some especially notable statistics:
- This is the hottest late spring and summer period on record in Texas using a metric known as population-weighted cooling degree days, which counts the number of degrees above 65, according MaxarWeather, a forecasting firm.
- Between Sunday and Tuesday, College Station saw three of its four hottest days (taking an average of the high and low temperature) since records began in 1888. The high temperature on Sunday of 111 was its second-highest on record.
- On Sunday and Monday, Houston saw its second- and fourth-hottest days on record, while San Antonio saw its second- and seventh-hottest days. Houston’s high temperature of 105 on Sunday tied its hottest on record during July.
- San Antonio has hit at least 100 degrees on 36 days this year, the most on record year-to-date. The city normally averages just three such days through July 13. San Antonio has reached the century mark every day this month.
The forecast calls for all of these locations to keep racking up triple-digit highs for the rest of the month, further separating the heat in 2022 from anything previously observed.