Austin experiences fortieth day of triple-digit heat this year

David Engleman

Austin is no stranger to heat, but the recent wave of triple-digit temperatures is outside the norm, according to Weather and Climate Resouce Center officials.

Last Wednesday, temperatures broke 100 degrees Fahrenheit for the 45th time this year. Troy Kimmel, manager of the Weather and Climate Resource Center at UT, said this heat is part of a broader trend caused by multiple meteorological factors.

“There is a strong correlation between this [heat] and the multi-year drought,” Kimmel said. 

A multi-year drought combined with upper-level highs has trapped heat at ground level and has made the past few years unusually warm. These periods of heat and drought are not foreign to Texas and this year’s persistent heat is far from the 90-day mark set in 2011. Kimmel said Austin-Bergstrom International Airport has exceeded the yearly average for rainfall by about 0.3 inches.

Nonetheless, UT students are making adjustments in response to the heat. High temperatures have students worried about sunburn, dehydration and just staying cool on campus.

Stephanie Sebastian, an international relations and global studies sophomore, said she has to take additional measures to protect herself from the heat.

“Although I was brought up in Texas, the heat recently has been unbearable,” Sebastian said. “I definitely have to bring extra water and be more diligent in wearing sunscreen than I normally would just to combat the heat.”

International relations and global studies sophomore Will Cowan said he has had to change his routes across campus to stay cool. Cowan said he walks through buildings and takes the bus more often just to cool off.

“Usually I drink two water bottles a day,” Cowan said. “Now, I have to drink twice that.” 

Cowan said that without the extra water he has experienced signs of dehydration — including dizziness. 

While students have made their adjustments for the time being, there is hope that they can resume their normal routines by the end of the month. Kimmel said triple-digit days stop on average by the end of August. 

The multi-year drought has become more severe since 2008 and has grown from West Texas to include South-Central Texas. Kimmel said it would take significant rainfall or other meteorological change to snap out of the drought.