Houston’s relentless heat wave prompted the National Weather Service today to declare a “Heat Emergency,” a designation that air temperature and humidity is a potential health threat for all people and is particularly dangerous for high-risk groups.
The emergency designation is expected to last through Friday, said Houston health department spokeswoman Kathy Barton.
Barton said the health department has accordingly invoked its heat emergency plan, which involves working with Metro to bring people to designated cooling centers, such as libraries, and generally urging people to take extra precautions to stay inside.
It is not uncommon for the weather service to declare a heat emergency in Houston, though it didn’t happen last summer. Such an emergency is declared when the heat index, a computation of air temperature and humidity, reaches 108 degrees on two more consecutive days.
The index reached 108 Wednesday and is expected to reach that level today and Friday. Houston's actual temperature hit 104 degrees Wednesday, the hottest it's ever gotten in June.
State electric regulators, meanwhile, will consider a request by consumer groups and a Houston lawmaker for an immediate ban on electric service disconnects because of the continuing heat wave.
The abnormally severe heat -- yes, even for Houston -- is not expected to abate through the next 10 days or more, according to the National Weather Service.
"Today and tomorrow both, we have the potential to set records," said Matt Moreland, a weather-service meteorologist.
A high pressure area, which more common in July and August, has parked over most of the state for weeks. It has prevented rainshowers from reaching the area, plunging Houston into a moderate drought and keeping the official weather service rain gauge at Bush Intercontinental Airport from getting measurable precipitation all month.
High temperaures Friday and through the weekend and much of next week are predicted to be near triple digits, and overnight lows will be near 80 degrees. Isolated showers are possible, but no major rain systems are expected to move into the area.