The Dallas-Fort Worth region just experienced the second-hottest May on record, according to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth. Only 1996 had a hotter May, and it wasn't by much.
But why is Fort Worth seeing July-like high temperatures when there are still three weeks left in spring?
It's mostly because we haven't gotten enough rain, said weather service meteorologist Lee Carlaw.
Just as it takes a while for a pot of water to boil, he said, soaked ground keeps outdoor temperatures from rising as rapidly.
Dry ground not only allows temperatures to soar, but those high temperatures increase air pressure — pushing rain away from the region like a shield, Carlaw said.
"It's a nasty feedback loop and a tough one to break," he said.
It will feel sweltering in Fort Worth on Saturday, with a high temperature up around 101 and heat index readings up to 110, the weather service predicts.
But there may be a little relief in sight, as a weak cool front is projected to push into the region Saturday afternoon and evening, bringing a slight chance of thunderstorms and ushering in a slightly cooler Sunday and Monday, the weather service predicts.
The average temperature last month was 79 degrees, .7 of a degree cooler than May 1996.
Spring (March through May, as the weather service measures it) was also the 12th hottest on record, and the region received less than half (1.87 inches) the average amount of rain (4.9 inches). April, meanwhile, was the 6th coolest for that month on record.
Meanwhile, MedStar reported receiving more than 80 heat-related calls since Saturday of last week. That was the day it implemented a special heat response procedure to elevate the priority of any call involving a person who was stuck out in the heat, spokesman Matt Zavadsky said.
Between Monday and Thursday there were 47 heat-related calls, he said. Seventy percent of them happened between noon and 9 p.m., and a little more than half the victims were between the ages of 30 and 60.
Tarrant County Public Health offers the following tips for keeping yourself, your children and your pets safe in the heat:
▪ Stay hydrated with water and sports drinks, avoiding beverages containing alcohol, caffeine or a lot of sugar.
▪ Avoid outdoor activities, including walking dogs, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. That's when the sun's rays are most intense.
▪ Take plenty of breaks and rest in the shade if you must be outdoors.
▪ Use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Sunburned skin draws fluid from the rest of the body.
▪ Never leave a child, pet or elderly person unattended in a vehicle. Its interior can heat up like an oven.
▪ If possible, walk pets early in the morning or later in the evening. Watch them for sensitivity to hot sidewalks and walk them on the grass if possible. Always make sure pets have plenty of fresh water.