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Memorial Day weekend could be sweaty, oppressive, forecasters say


Highlights

Forecast calls for a high of 94 on Saturday, with the heat index reaching 104.

The second half of Memorial Day weekend could see thunderstorms, showers.

Forecasts call for a high of 94 on Friday in Austin, but the heat index could be pushing 103.

The anticipated heat will border on being dangerously hot, so watch for symptoms of heat exhaustion.

Friday’s expected high temperature: 94 degrees.

Feels like: the armpit of a sumo wrestler after a particularly grueling match.

OK, forecasters won’t put it quite in those terms. But get ready for muggy weather — a slightly less awful version of the special grossness that tends to land Houston near the top of the lists of America’s sweatiest cities.

National Weather Service forecasts call for a high of 94 on Friday in Austin. But the heat index, which also factors in the humidity, could be pushing 103 degrees and reach as high as 108 in Central Texas over the weekend, according to the Weather Service.

Humidity, in this case from the Gulf Coast, makes everything feel hotter because evaporation is not as effective in damp air. As a result, the body cannot cool down as easily through evaporating sweat.

The anticipated heat will border on being dangerously hot, according to the weather service. So anyone venturing outside for extended periods should be sure to bring a hat, sunglasses, sunblock, maybe ice, possibly an umbrella or tarp and plenty of liquids. Watch for symptoms of heat exhaustion, such as dizziness, nausea and fainting.

Also, be extra careful not to leave children or pets unattended in the back seat of a car. Even when it’s just 80 degrees outside, temperatures inside a car can rise to deadly triple-digit temperatures within 15 minutes.

Anyone interested in observing Austin’s sacred Memorial Day weekend traditions of tubing on the Guadalupe River or boating on Lake Travis should do so Saturday, just to be on the safe side. If the forecast holds — no sure thing, particularly in the past two months when storm systems rarely lived up to the warnings — showers and thunderstorms could arrive by Sunday afternoon. That could mean lightning, which you should avoid if you’re outdoors. (There is a reason Florida, with its near-daily opportunities to combine afternoon thunderstorms with boating and other fun outdoor activities, tends to lead the nation in annual lightning-related deaths by a wide margin.)

The back end of the Memorial Day weekend in Central Texas also could be wet, with a 60 percent chance of showers Sunday night before diminishing to 30 percent on Monday.

Those odds suggest Austin will see rainfall, with the question simply a matter of where, exactly. Weather service forecasts are calling for two-day rainfall totals of no more than 1.5 inches across Central Texas.

Longer-term forecasts suggest the trend could continue into next week.

“The combination of a stalled-out cold front, abundant Gulf moisture and a series of weak atmospheric disturbances is expected to cause a 50-60 percent chance for rain Sunday through next Tuesday,” Lower Colorado River Authority meteorologist Bob Rose wrote in his weather blog.



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