From the ABC 7 Weather team

Record: 44 days of 100-plus heat in Waco, Texas, and counting

August 12, 2011 - 03:45 PM
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After wilting under its hottest July on record, some Texas cities are seeing dangerous stretches of incredibly hot weather.

After the warmest July on record in Texas, some areas, like Waco, are suffering record-setting streaks of 100-degree-plus temperatures. Here, the dried bed of Lake E.V. Spence is shown in Robert Lee, Texas. (Tony Gutierrez) (Photo: Associated Press)

Here's something to make you feel cool on this forehead-swabbing Friday: Today marks the 44th consecutive day of temperatures above 100 degrees in Waco, Texas. That's an all-time record for the city, beating out the 42 straight days of triple-digit horror in 1980.

As in D.C., July was the warmest month in documented history for Texas. Because of an upper-level ridge of high pressure that just won't leave, the state has been left unattended on the burner. The Dallas/Fort Worth area just escaped from its second-hottest streak ever, with 40 running days above 100. If the nights at the DFW International Airport keep above 80 degrees until tomorrow, the all-time local record of 14 consecutive warm nights set in 1998 will have been broken.

The heat has turned an almost unimaginable 99.9 percent of Texas soil into a dry, chalky material more suitable for cactus planting (though even cactus would shrivel, as they need water occasionally). Ongoing since at least January, the drought is the worst in Texas history, and has prompted the feds to declare much of the state a natural disaster zone:

texas drought monitor august 2011

Dogs are running into rivers to stay cool. Baby armadillos are stealing water from garden hoses. Heat-weary cats are eschewing their cozy beds to sleep in sinks. IT'S MADNESS:

And how are the Texans handling this hotter-than-a-habañero heat streak?

In Travis County, a naked man sleeping on a dock received sunburns so severe that he had to be taken to the hospital by helicopter.

The landscaping business around Dallas/Fort Worth is taking a major hit, as you can't plant much in this heat. Operators of greenhouses have knocked plant prices down by as much as 75 percent. Some folks are using folding tents to provide shade in their yards – "Anything creative to get the job done and not totally pass out."

The Fort Worth police have noted an uptick in assault and domestic-violence cases. Said the department's spokesman, as quoted by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "People tend to be more agitated and irritated with this amount of heat," he said. "We are praying for in a break in the weather pattern."

That same story also notes that, anecdotally, the number of people seeking help in family-violence shelters is up. Same with the divorce rate, said one lawyer: "It started about the 20th day we had temperatures over 100. I can't correlate it directly, but I find it interesting."

The utility that operates the state's electric grid, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, reported a record peak demand last week of 68,295 megawatts. That's a lot.

Duke University has released a study suggesting that major-league baseball players are "60 percent more likely to be hit by a pitch when it's 90 degrees or hotter than when it's 80 or lower." So keep an eye out when the Texas Rangers play Boston at the team's next home game on Aug. 22. There could be some of this: 

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