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The summer of our discomfort: Victoria sets heat record

Sonny Long

By Sonny Long
Aug. 15, 2011 at 3:15 a.m.

Teo Callas, a plasterer working to build an urgent care facility, takes a break from the intense afternoon heat to spray himself with cold water from a hose.

Chedrick Robinson uses all his strength to unscrew a waterline in front of a home on DeLeon Street, Monday.

Just then, fresh water jets out toward the sidewalk, a gentle mist relieves his and his co-worker's face.

"Ain't getting used to it," said Frankie Brown about the heat as Robinson fixed the water line.

"If you see us out here, give us a Powerade," Robinson adds laughing.

When the thermometer reaches 100 degrees in Victoria on Tuesday - and why wouldn't it? - that will mark a record 17th day in a row that temperatures have reached triple digits.

The previous record was 16 consecutive days, Aug. 8-23, 1911.

The current streak began on July 31 when the temperature topped out at 101. The hottest day in the streak has been 103 degrees, four times, Aug. 1, 2, 4 and 14.

The 103-degree heat on the 1st and 2nd tied records for all-time highs on those days.

Tuesday's forecast, as well as the rest of the week, calls for the temperatures to continue at or above the 100 degree mark.


Why is it staying so hot for so long?

John Metz, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said La Nina is at least partially to blame.

"La Nina conditions developed about this time last summer and persisted through May 2011 before dissipating," Metz said. "La Nina typically results in warmer and drier-than-normal conditions in South Texas, and that has most certainly been the result. Although La Nina has dissipated, and we are currently in neutral conditions, the effects of La Nina remain."

Metz also explained that the jet stream has been positioned farther north and not allowed any breakdown of the high pressure ridge over Texas.


Relief from the extremely hot and dry conditions in the summer can usually only come from a tropical cyclone, Metz said.

"We can only hope to get some rain with a weak slow-moving tropical storm before the hurricane season ends," said Metz, noting it is impossible to determine if or when a storm will strike more than a week in advance.

The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center has issued a La Nina Watch, added Metz.

All indications are showing that La Nina may redevelop this fall or winter, which would mean a continuation of above-normal temperatures and below-normal rainfall into next spring, he said.

"The only real bright side is that the first cold front typically arrives around the first week of October, which is only a month-and-a-half away," said Metz.

But for outdoor workers like Robinson and Brown, there just isn't relief, despite taking breaks and keeping hydrated.

"It's exhausting," Brown said. "You try and do what you can."

Advocate Reporter J.R. Ortega contributed to this story.



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