A heat wave baking the central and southern United States was blamed on Wednesday for at least 22 deaths this week as forecasters warned that the abnormally hot weather could last into August as it moves east.
NOAA has upped its peak heat index prediction for D.C. Friday to a stunning, sweltering 116 degrees. Remarkably, it predicts there is a 90 percent chance it will reach at least 110 and a 100 percent chance of at least 105. Earlier today, NOAA was predicting a maximum heat index of 109 Friday.
And poor Richmond, Va.! NOAA projects its heat index will soar to a stifling 118 degrees.
Nearly all of Texas is in a serious drought, and nearly two-thirds of the state — including most of Central Texas and the lower Colorado River basin — is entering the summer season in exceptional drought, the most severe category.
The eight months from October 2010 through May 2011 have been the driest eight-month period on record for Texas since 1895. Rainfall in Austin was 38 percent of normal, and Wharton rainfall was 30 percent of normal.
Temperatures also have hit triple digits earlier than usual this year, with three 100+-degree days in Austin in May. The period from March through May in Austin was the hottest such period on record, punctuated by the hottest April Austin has experienced. The trend for hot, dry conditions is continuing in June.