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Austin broke a heat index record. The rain is partially to blame.

A man and his dog stroll across Sand Beach Park in Austin.
Amaya Austin
/
KUT
Austin hit an all-time high heat index on Wednesday afternoon. The heat combined with leftover moisture in the ground from the rain a few weeks ago is contributing to the high humidity.

Austin hit a record-high heat index on Wednesday, and the rain from a few weeks ago is partially to blame.

Camp Mabry recorded a heat index of 118 degrees on Wednesday afternoon. This value isn't the actual temperature of the air, but it's what the temperature feels like when humidity combines with air temperature. This was an all-time high, breaking a heat index record of 116 degrees set on Aug. 12, 2016.

Matt Brady, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the heat index record was the result of rain from a few weeks ago combined with high temperatures. Wednesday’s air temperature got up to 103 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

“Our weather patterns are similar to temperatures we’ve seen in previous years, but that preceding rain from a few weeks ago saturated the ground, and that moisture is still around, which is leading to higher humidity levels," Brady said.

Austin is expected to cool down slightly over the next several days, but don’t get too excited.

There are still plenty of warm and humid conditions ahead, with temperatures and humidity levels expected to be well above normal, Brady said.

The high on Thursday is expected to be around 97 degrees, but the rain that moved in overnight Wednesday and Thursday morning means it will feel like well above 100 degrees outside.

The Austin area is under a heat advisory from 1 to 9 p.m. Thursday. A heat advisory means that heat index values could reach up to 113 degrees, and people should take precautions while outdoors. The advisory is likely to remain in place throughout the weekend.

“And, unfortunately, today is probably the coolest day in the week ahead,” Brady said.

Hotter temperatures return this weekend and continue through next week. The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity will likely lead to excessive heat warnings or heat advisories each day, he said.

This week, Austin and Travis County officials warned residents of the risks of heat and encouraged heat safety and awareness.

The city is using libraries and park facilities as cooling centers open to the public as the heat wave continues. Capital Metro provides free rides to them.

For people at home, drawing shades and curtains can help keep the house cool. Residents are also encouraged to turn the air conditioner up a few degrees to help lighten the load on the power grid. Never leave people or pets alone in the car.

If you have to be outside, officials say to drink plenty of water, take breaks in the shade, wear a lot of sunscreen, and put on light and loose-fitting clothing.

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Luz Moreno-Lozano is the Austin City Hall reporter at KUT. Got a tip? Email her at lmorenolozano@kut.org. Follow her on X @LuzMorenoLozano.
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