Texas Smashes Heat Records as Energy Demands Surge
July 20, 2018
An extreme heat wave is hitting Texas and surrounding states. Temperatures in much of that region have been near and past 100 for days, and they will rise there and beyond in the days ahead.
A large swath of the south-central part of the country is under either a heat advisory or an excessive heat warning Thursday. More than 8 million residents of Texas are included in the excessive heat warning that runs through Friday. It is the first heat warning that includes the Dallas-Fort Worth area since August 2011. There have already been five days in a row of 100 or greater in that city, with at least that many more to come.
This is all thanks to a sprawling high-pressure system anchored over the western half of the country. Over coming days, this high pressure should shift east toward the Four Corners and the Southern Plains. This will allow already hot temperatures to turn more extreme.
National Weather Service warning for dangerous heat.
Eric Berger of the Houston-area Space City Weather blog says that “it will be as bad or worse than expected.” In Texas, a state that’s used to crazy heat, this is never a good thing.
As the forecast for the next five days from the high-performing European model (up top) shows, almost the entire state of Texas as well as surrounding areas are expecting to top 100 on the regular through the weekend or into early next week.
Houston and other coastal zones may catch something of a break, at least before the weekend. Berger writes, “Houston, with its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, won’t bake quite as much as northern Texas.”
In this case, the term “bake” may be an understatement, in parts of North Texas, in particular.
Lest you think the European model — with its smattering of 110s — is completely bonkers, the National Weather Service (NWS) office that covers the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area highlights similar ideas (below from this morning’s technical forecast discussion):
Temperatures will climb to near or above record values this afternoon with highs of 105-110 degrees likely within the warned area. Both DFW and Waco’s record highs (107 and 106, respectively) will be attainable.
Looking to the future, the NWS notes:
Strong upper level high pressure will continue to dominate North and Central Texas through early next week. This will result in record breaking temperatures in many locations and essentially no chance for measurable rainfall. Afternoon high temperatures Friday and Saturday should be the hottest we have seen this season with most locations heating up between 104 and 110.
Even before reaching full maturity, this scorching heat has already caused record energy demand across Texas. Additional demand and consumption records seem likely to be tested and bested again in the days ahead as the heat wave peaks.
Fortunately, the electric grid seems to be holding up. According to the Houston Chronicle, “Texas has not suffered blackouts or brownouts, which happen when there’s not enough power on the grid to meet demand.” But utilities are asking customers to trim energy use in the afternoons, when temperatures and air conditioning demands are at their peaks.
While this may be the most significant heat wave to affect the region since 2011, that year will be hard to top. The summer of 2011 was among the hottest on record for many folks in the region. It also came in the midst of an exceptional and widespread drought, amplifying the intensity. (Only parts of Texas this year are reporting extreme drought levels.)
- Blue Monster Prep