Texas is currently experiencing an unprecedented heat wave, now in its third week, and the broader US South is also facing extremely high temperatures. This has resulted in widespread power outages and a lack of air conditioning for tens of thousands of people.
More than 40 million individuals in the US are under a heat alert, indicating the severity of the situation. Cities in Texas, like Corpus Christi, have encountered record-breaking heat indices, which combine temperature and humidity.
Temperatures have skyrocketed to 125F (51C) in Corpus Christi, 118F (47C) in Rio Grande Village, and 115F (46C) in Del Rio. Other states such as New Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kansas, and Missouri are also grappling with scorching temperatures. The National Weather Service predicts that these high temperatures will persist until the week of July 4.
This heatwave follows a weekend of destructive storms that caused extensive power outages. The heat dome, as it is known, has settled over Mexico and parts of the US southwest due to hot ocean air trapped in the atmosphere.
Andrew Pershing, the director of climate science at the non-profit organization Climate Central, emphasized the significant impact of these conditions on residents. He described the event as intense, widespread, and long-lasting, attributing it to human-caused climate change, which has made such conditions more than five times more likely.
Earlier this week, Texas’ power utility urged residents to conserve energy by reducing their usage of air conditioning to relieve strain on the power grid. Emergency crews in the Tulsa, Oklahoma region have been inundated with a record number of calls due to the heat and resulting power outages.
In Jackson, Mississippi, residents have endured nearly 100 hours without power and air conditioning, as reported by a news outlet. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) records an average of 702 heat-related deaths in the US each year.
In 2021, a heat dome in Oregon led to 69 heat-related deaths. Consequently, an Oregon county has filed a lawsuit against fossil fuel companies, holding them accountable for the heatwave, according to The Guardian.