Is it getting hotter? How Houston's early summer heat this week compares to that from last June

Elyse Smith Image
Monday, June 24, 2024
Is it getting hotter? How Houston's early summer heat this week compares to that from last June
As Houston anticipates the season's first heat wave, ABC13 Meteorologist Elyse Smith compares this incoming heat to last year's temperatures.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston could be in for the first heat wave of the season with temperatures potentially rising into the upper 90s later this week.

With the summer heat finally here, ABC13 Meteorologist Elyse Smith compares this incoming heat to normal temperatures this time of year.

The weather southeast Texas is experiencing this June has been very different from last year. It's a tale of two Junes.

In mid-June of 2023, temperatures skyrocketed. Houston had three 100-degree days in a row at the start of summer with an additional 13 days where high temperatures were above 95 degrees.

In addition to that, the ground started to dry up towards the end of the month as Houston only saw 3.24 inches of rain in June of 2023, and much of that rain fell in the first half of the month. That's just over half of the monthly average of 6 inches.

Thanks to the active weather pattern bringing in several rainy and stormy weather systems to southeast Texas, this June has been quite a different story.

So far, there was only one day when temperatures went above 95 degrees, and that was June 6th.

Plus, Houston has seen double the amount of rainfall than all of last June combined and the month's not even over yet. As of June 24, 7.79 inches of rain have fallen at Bush Intercontinental Airport.

When considering the heat that will come to Houston later this week, we're set up to handle these hot afternoons better since we've eased into it this summer compared to last summer. In other words, we have a better opportunity to acclimate to the heat.

New this summer, there's a tool from the National Weather Service to help show us when the heat is expected to be above what we usually see. This is in addition to the Heat Advisories and Excessive Heat Warnings that will be issued if needed.

It's a heat risk map and a helpful way to show when the heat puts our health at risk specifically in southeast Texas. What's key is that it takes into account our baseline for heat.

For example, a 95-degree day with a feels-like temperature near 108 degrees is hot, but it does not spike all the way into that extreme category for Houston. But if you were to compare it to say New York City with the same conditions, it most likely would since that would be more of extreme heat to them. A reminder that Houston's heat baseline or benchmark is a little higher than other parts of the country.

This week could also be the first time we have consecutive Heat Advisories issued day after day, where the compounding impacts of the daily heat could put you at risk. Make sure you're drinking plenty of water and taking cooling breaks in the A/C throughout the day.

Of course, the eye-catching data points are those hot afternoon temperatures, but it's also important to point out how Houston's summers are warming collectively over time. ABC13 partners with Climate Central and they found that since 1970, Houston's average summer temperature is nearly 5 degrees warmer than what we experienced decades ago. This includes overnight lows, or what the temperature is around sunrise.

Meteorologist Elyse Smith covered this extensively last summer because having low temperatures near 80 degrees for consecutive days, if not weeks, at a time is not normal. That's significant because your body isn't able to cool off or reset for the next day on its own without A/C.

Houston's overnight lows are warming faster than our afternoon highs. These warmer nights are a sign of how our climate is changing and our summers are altogether warming here in southeast Texas.

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