After occasional storms and opportune rains in May and June, July’s weather in Denton County has been just relentless in its heat and drought.
As July came to a close, we had only one day in the month, the 1st, with high temperatures that were below 100 degrees. The unbroken streak of 100-degree-highs places us in the top-two all time North Texas heat waves. For the month, the average high was 101.7 and the average low was 78. Winds rarely exceeded 25 miles per hour which helped prevent the spread of wildfires. No rainfall was recorded at Denton Municipal Airport.
Although there were no severe storms during July, there were several warnings issued for extreme fire danger, air pollution and heat stress. Fewer than half a dozen people have suffered obvious heat-related deaths so far in North Texas, but every day that goes by without a break in the heat, the danger accumulates.
Here are some important reminders to help you and your family survive the stressful heat:
First, drink plenty of water. That sounds so simple, but physical trainers are now realizing that athletes and outdoor workers can stand the heat much better if they “pre-hydrate” themselves before going outside – even a day in advance. That means drinking extra water even if you’re not thirsty. Once in the heat for extended periods, your body may lose more water than you can replenish easily.
If you have no air conditioning or must suffer an extended power outage, use fans and take cool showers and frequent baths when at home. And try to escape the heat during the afternoon hours by visiting malls, grocery stores, libraries and other safe, air-conditioned public spaces.
Old-timers used to hose down the roof, siding and brick walls of their homes about sunset. Even the relatively warm water out of a garden hose will evaporate, cooling the surface temperature of the siding and stopping the transfer of solar radiation and ambient heat from the outside. It really helps to repeat the process, especially on the west side of your home. Just be careful to avoid spraying cool water on your hot windows.
Finally, look out for those at greatest risk of not noticing the accumulative onset of heat stress and heat exhaustion. Elderly people, those with chronic disabilities and young children often don’t notice the first signs of heat stress. They’re also more likely to have conditions that don’t allow their bodies to cool as efficiently as healthier adults. If you notice fatigue, lack of perspiration, rapid heartbeat and respiration, don’t wait. Call 9-1-1 and get that person some help immediately. And don’t leave anything living in a closed car. The interior can quickly reach 180 degrees – hot enough to bake cookies on your dashboard!
The end of La Nina’s unusually cool Pacific Ocean temperatures came at a bad time for Texas and much of the South. Expect more heat, drought, fire danger and water restrictions in August.
Brad Barton is Chief Meteorologist of WBAP 820 AM/96.7 FM and Founder of WeatherInTouch.net warning technologies.