A heat wave affecting Texas to Florida is expected to expand northward
By KEN MILLER, Associated Press
A heat wave that has taxed the Texas power grid and threatens to bring record high temperatures to the state is expected to expand north and east during the coming week, a forecaster with the National Weather Service said Monday.
“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, lead forecaster Bob Oravec said.
Oravec said 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.
The heat caused Texas’ power grid operator, Electric Reliability Council of Texas, to ask residents last week to voluntarily cut back on electricity because of anticipated record demand on the system.
The National Integrated Heat Health Information System reports more than 46 million people from west Texas and southeastern New Mexico to the western Florida Panhandle are currently under heat alerts. The NIHHIS is a joint project of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The heat wave, or heat dome, is the result of a dome of stationary high pressure with warm air combined 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.”
The heat comes after Sunday storms that killed three people and left more than 100,000 customers without electricity in both Arkansas and Tennessee and tens of thousands powerless in Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana, according to poweroutage.us.