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Heat returns with vengeance

By BY DAVID TEWES
July 12, 2010 at 2:12 a.m.

Jason Padillo

WHAT IS HEAT INDEX?The heat index gauges the effect of temperature and atmospheric moisture on people outdoors.

It does not take into account wind, which can cause cooling by evaporating sweat on the skin.

Victoria resident Jason Padillo doesn't need to look at the forecast to know there has been a big change in weather this week.

"The heat came back hard," said the 31-year-old city parks department employee. "It was nice last week, but now we've got to worry about heat stroke."

Padillo, who was mowing grass in Riverside Park on Monday, said that's why his supervisor encouraged employees to take frequent breaks. He said the employees were also provided with sports drinks to stay hydrated.

Temperatures went from rain-cooled highs in the upper 70s to mid-80s last week to readings this week in the mid-90s, with the heat index forecast to reach 106 Tuesday.

"It's definitely getting hot up there," said Zach Finch with the National Weather Service. "And we're not expecting much cloud cover."

Last week's rain and cloudy skies were caused by a tropical depression that moved inland near Brownsville. It swept west into Mexico, taking with it the cloud cover and rain.

But it left behind a moist ground, which helped increase the relative humidity and make it feel even hotter than the thermometer indicates.

Finch said adding to the sticky conditions are southeast winds bringing moisture in from the warm Gulf of Mexico. He said he doesn't see an end to the hot, humid conditions soon.

"It's going to stay in the mid-90s for highs and lows of 76 or 75," he said. "In terms of rainfall, the chances may increase a little toward end of the week, but for the middle part of the week it's looking pretty dry."

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