It’s the Valley. It’s July. And it’s hot. The "big" news through the Fourth of July holiday weekend is no news, really; just more of the same weather that dominated June, with daytime temperatures hovering close to the century mark, warm and muggy nights, and relief found at the beach. Isolated to scattered afternoon thunderstorms may dent the heat, particularly through mid to late week as a weak upper level disturbance adds just enough moisture to activate the sea breeze in a few spots around the Lower and Middle Rio Grande Valley. Aside from local cloud to ground lightning in any storms that develop, the usual summer concern of heat stress will prevail. Moderate to locally exceptional drought will continue across all of Deep South Texas through the period, and contribute to the above average temperatures, even for early July.
The combination of heat and humidity will make it feel more like 105°F to 110°F each afternoon across most of the area. Evenings will provide little relief as the apparent temperature will remain above 90 until after midnight for areas away from the coast. The potential for heat health related incidents remains high, even as we head into the hottest part of the year. Persons expected to spend any length of time outdoors for the next week are urged to follow these safety tips:
For much more information, go to the National Weather Service's Heat Safety web page.
- Slow Down. Schedule strenuous activities early in the morning, if at all.
- Drink Plenty of Water. For healthy persons, be sure to drink water at all times, even if you are not thirsty. Persons on fluid restricting diets should consult their physicians before increasing consumption.
- Dress for Summer. Lightweight, light colored clothing reflects heat and sunlight and helps maintain a lower body temperature.
- Do not Drink Alcohol. Alcoholic beverages increase dehydration rate and could bring on heat stress or heat stroke rapidly.
- Spend time in Air Conditioning. Cooler locations offer relief and some protection from heat dangers.
- Avoid Sunburns. Sunburn makes heat dissipation from the body more difficult. As the summer solstice approaches, the angle of the sun reaches its peak, increasing the threat for sunburn in a short period of time.
- Eat Lighter. Put less fuel on your inner fires. Foods that increase metabolic heat production can also increase the rate of water loss.
- Leave Children Unattended in Vehicles. Not even for a minute! Temperatures rise rapidly inside a car, nearly 30°F in as little as 20 minutes. Click here for more information on children and hyperthermia.
According to the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service, the current drought continues to affect the production of grains and native rangeland and pastureland. Across the area, the grain harvest is expected to be small; supplemental feeding continues for cattle and other livestock. Windmills and water wells continued to be used as a main source of water for livestock. Heavy irrigation of corn, sorghum, and citrus was allowing these crops to progress.
As the long weekend approaches and beach crowds swell, it remains imperative that those venturing into the surf remain alert to rip currents and longshore swell. The good news is that the general weather pattern remains benign, with east to southeast winds continuing at 10 to 15 knots and a light to moderate swell which should remain below 7 seconds. Experienced swimmers should find the pleasantly cooler waters a great way to beat the heat. Inexperienced swimmers should remain cautious, particularly where rip currents tend to form near the jetties of Isla Blanca Park, and at remote beach access points where deeper water can make navigating undertow associated with longshore swell more difficult.
Current forecast trends suggest lowering rain chances toward the peak of the holiday weekend. Still, with larger crowds of local residents and visitors expected to be outdoors, it is vitally important to be able to quickly seek a sturdy structure should a lightning storm approach. When the chance of rain is relatively high, it is imperative to have a plan that allows you to seek safety indoors immediately. Remember...When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors! For much more on lightning safety for you and your family, click here.
Dry to Critically Dry Fuels will continue across most of South Texas, as widespread, soaking rains are not in the current forecast picture. Light to moderate winds and sufficiently high afternoon humidity will keep the threat for rapid wild fire growth under control. The combination of dry to critically dry fuels with an expected surge in fireworks activity as the weekend approaches could be a concern. The best advice is for people to use any devices very carefully and ensure supervision, particularly for children. While burn bans remain in effect for most counties in Deep South Texas and all of the Rio Grande Valley, they do not necessarily impact the use of individual pyrotechnics. Residents with further questions about any burning and fire works use should contact local officials.