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Texas toast: Heat crushed records Saturday and will swell northward

Much of the central U.S. faces an extended May heat wave in the coming week

Forecast highs Sunday from the National Weather Service. Boxed values are predicted records. (WeatherBell)
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Temperatures as high as 112 degrees shattered records in Texas on Saturday, setting off a prolonged heat wave that will expand through much of the central United States.

Parts of Texas could see record-challenging heat in the next six days while record highs near 90 degrees could expand as far north as the Great Lakes by Thursday.

It’s the first heat wave of 2022 in the Lower 48 states, at a time when people aren’t yet acclimated to hot weather, increasing the risk of heat-related illness. The National Weather Service has issued heat advisories for portions of Central and South Texas on Sunday. They will probably need to be reissued and extended northward and eastward over the coming days.

“If you have outdoor plans, be sure to practice heat safety and stay hydrated,” the Weather Service office serving Austin and San Antonio tweeted early Sunday.

The heat will also intensify a critical-to-extreme fire threat that stretches from New Mexico to West Texas.

‘Potentially historic’ wildfire event threatens New Mexico, Southwest

Saturday’s heat

Abnormally hot weather scorched not only Texas on Saturday. Searing temperatures into the 90s also spread over parts of Colorado and New Mexico. In Arizona, Phoenix reached the century mark for the first time this year.

Here is a list of some of the notable records that were set Saturday:

  • 107 degrees: Abilene, Del Rio and San Angelo, Tex.
  • 106 degrees: Childress, Tex.
  • 102 degrees: Lubbock, Tex.
  • 101 degrees: San Antonio and Amarillo, Tex. — the earliest date ever recorded hitting the century mark in Amarillo.
  • 98 degrees: Dalhart, Tex.
  • 96 degrees: Corpus Christi, Tex.
  • 91 degrees: Colorado Springs.
  • 89 degrees: Denver.
  • 87 degrees: Galveston, Tex.

The mercury soared as high as 112 degrees at Rio Grande Village near the border with Mexico in West Texas, according to Maximiliano Herrera, an expert on weather extremes.

While unrelated to the heat in Texas and the Southwest, South Florida also baked Saturday, with record highs in Miami (93, tying 2021) and Fort Lauderdale (93).

Heat to swell north and northeast

On Sunday, record-breaking heat — with temperatures again topping 100 — will mostly concentrate in Texas before the dome of high pressure responsible for the heat balloons toward the Great Lakes as the week wears on.

Record highs into the 90s are anticipated in Louisiana, central and southern Arkansas, and western Mississippi on Monday.

By Tuesday, record highs into the low 90s will expand as far north as St. Louis. The Weather Service office serving St. Louis wrote that the weather pattern will lock in “an unseasonably warm airmass that will bring several days of surface temperatures approaching daily records for early May.”

The heat will be most expansive on Wednesday, with highs near 90 or higher in Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois and everywhere to the south. The Weather Service predicts scores of records will fall.

Record-challenging heat will expand farthest north by Thursday, when Minneapolis could touch 90 while highs well into the 80s reach into Michigan and Wisconsin.

Chicago could see highs near or above 90 from Tuesday through Thursday, flirting with records each day. “The extended forecast period features the much advertised first multiday stretch of hot and muggy conditions of the year,” the Weather Service office serving Chicago wrote.

While humidity levels won’t be as oppressive as they would be midsummer, dew points in the mid-60s to near 70 will make the air temperature feel several degrees higher.

Cooler air arriving from the northwest will squash the core of the heat back into Texas and parts of the South on Friday and into the weekend.

This early heat wave in the central states promises to be the first of many. The Weather Service’s summer temperature outlook leans toward above-normal temperatures for much of the Lower 48 states. Furthermore, human-caused climate change increases the likelihood of more frequent, intense and prolonged heat waves.

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