Dallas on track to set new record as heat wave takes toll
"Fuel City" gas station in Dallas, Texas, has a pool, but it's not enough to provide relief from the city's 40-day heat wave.
August 10th, 2011
09:07 PM ET

Dallas on track to set new record as heat wave takes toll

Dallas may be the only city in Texas - maybe even the country - that boasts a gas station with a swimming pool. Now, as the city endures a relentless summer heat wave, "Fuel City" is arguably one of few inviting outdoor scenes in town.

This summer's heat wave is wreaking havoc on virtually all aspects of life in Dallas, which has had 40 straight days of grueling 100-plus degree temperatures, with no end in sight.

Outdoor restaurants are nearly barren despite water misters and street-side advertising. Popular walking trails are empty of all but the most dedicated exercise enthusiasts and even they restrict their activity to the early morning hours, when the thermometer reads in the "bearable" upper 90's.

One night last week, the temperature was still reading an unthinkable 99 degrees at midnight!

It's not just miserable and hot outside, something for everyone to agree on and complain about. This year's heat event has also been deadly.

In Dallas County alone, heat is already to blame for at least 13 deaths since June, according to Zachary Thompson, director of Dallas County's Health and Human Services Department.

Dolores Grissom, a 79-year-old resident of the Oak Cliff neighborhood, was found dead in her home in July, two days after she called police to report that her home air conditioner unit had been stolen.

The Dallas County Medical Examiner's office says her death was heat-related. Grissom's neighbor, Lucy Harris, was the one who realized Grissom's air conditioner unit had been removed from the side of her home after her elderly neighbor told her the home was feeling hot.

Harris says whoever took it should be thrown in jail for life.

DCHHS operates a "heat emergency" hotline for residents. Nonprofit foundations provide funding, affording the DCHSS a chance to give away free air conditioning units. Each request is vetted and prioritized by the county according to need. Thompson says his staff has already delivered about 500 units this summer. He says he's working hard to avoid a statistic rivaling the 1998 heat wave, which led to 35 heat-related deaths in the county.

The Salvation Army is also operating 15 "cooling centers" in the five counties that make up the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. Those trying to beat the heat can sit in an air-conditioned room and pick up some free water. The Salvation Army has recorded about 163,000 visits to these sites over the last two months, spokesman Pat Patey said, many of them homeless.

Due to the brutal conditions outside, the Salvation Army has activated their "emergency shelter" plan offering access to some facilities 24-hours a day 7-days a week, including rollaway beds for those who need a cool place to sleep.

While the human impact is the most worrisome for city officials, the damage is also being felt on area roads. The city of Frisco is dealing with a buckled thoroughfare after swollen joints were unable to cope with the extreme heat. Forney has reported more of the same.

The North Texas Tollway Authority operates a 24-hour command center where approximately 450 cameras and sensors monitor for signs of commuter trouble on all toll roads in the area.

Temperature sensors on bridges and overpasses have been registering as high as 142 degrees, and sensors buried 18 inches below the concrete surface are reporting 105 degrees during the day, director Marty Lege said.

"We've not seen roadway temperatures like this probably ever," Lege said. "When someone breaks down and they're out in these kind of temperatures on our roadway system, it's very dangerous."

Cameras capture daily images of blowouts, breakdowns and drivers who rest in sun-scorched medians awaiting a tow truck. If the roads' toll cost is not enough for drivers, the 138-degree road surface temperature is also taking a toll.

And if you think taking the commuter railways are any better, think again. Trains are required to slow down from 60 mph to 40 mph any time the heat index reaches 105 or more. Operators worry about rolling blackouts, which could have an immediate impact on passengers' safety if traffic signals or cross bars experienced power outages.

The Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) as well as the Trinity Railway Express (TRE) have experienced delays from the speed adjustments as trains commonly run late in the rush hours between 2 to 9 p.m.

Frustrated riders awaiting their train's arrival on hot outdoor platforms have little choice but to bear the sweltering conditions together under very limited Texas shade.

As bad as the heat feels this summer, the only consolation is that it's not the worst Dallas has ever suffered through. The city's record for 100 degree-plus temperatures is 42 days, set in 1980. But, if the Texas sun continues its brutal beatdown into Saturday, Dallas will have set a new record - one that no one here is anxious to claim.

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Filed under: Heat • Texas • Weather
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Mack

    There is a specially heated place in Hell for the person who stole 79-year-old Dolores Grissom's air conditioner, causing her death.

    August 10, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • bear1979

      Yes! And, air conditioners do not work in hell!

      August 11, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • TheEnergyGuy

      In Texas stealing an AC is like stealing a horse, isn't it? That's a hanging offense! With no AC in Texas you could die.

      August 11, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Herbal Essence

    Why would anyone steal someones hair conditioner? Sad.

    August 10, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. drap

    I have a feeling this blog is going to set a record troll... .

    August 10, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Fashion Scarf

    Like your product, now many young people like wearing, This is me a very like-Burberry Slippers less Like to share, because the instantaneous promotion young man's glamour

    August 10, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. justathought

    I don't know if is strange that there have not been any derailments reported for railroad trains because it is a well known fact that railroad ties expand enouogh in this kind of heat to derail a train. It could well be that train scedules have been discontinued temporarely because of this heat wave. (It ha been known that railroad ties (the lenght) can expand as much as three inches due to hot weather..

    August 10, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheEnergyGuy

      The whole State of Texas has expanded in this heat. The Rs will ask for another House member, not knowing that it's based on population.

      August 11, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. fernace

    I don't know why they are concentrating on Dallas! ALL of Texas is melting in 106 degree weather! Houston, San Antonio, Austin etc. are all under heat advisory warnings! August is usually the hottest month, so I dread to see what kind of temps it will bring! Take care of animals, kids & elderly & hydrate like crazy, in this heat!!

    August 10, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Hopsing

    laying these RR tracks in the west was brutal..the heat,indians,and bad hair..my brothers and cousins led this life.I was lucky and ended up a cook for large family of men in Nev.

    August 10, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Cesar The Chorizo Champ Of Chihuahua*

    Downtown Dallas is like the movie Soylent Green. Bums piled up everywhere. The big scoopers come by and get them every night. Streets smell of urine and booze. I bet its real yummy down there right now.

    August 11, 2011 at 2:19 am | Report abuse |
  9. jj

    I love misters just not you cesar

    August 11, 2011 at 7:04 am | Report abuse |
  10. No No No Obama has got to go

    How come CNN dont report on the flash mob violence towards whites, Asians, and Latinos. With many recent incidents in Philly, Wisconsin fair, Detroit Ect. But they will run a black victim for DAYS?

    August 11, 2011 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Trollbuster

      Troll, go kcuf youself and leave this site alone.

      August 11, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. banasy©

    I agree with Mack.
    I hope whoever did this enjoys it while they can, because where they're going, there will be no relief.

    RIP, ma'am.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Cantabrigian

    Texans don't beleive that Global Warming is real and caused by over use of fosil fuels, so let them swelter.

    August 11, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • fresh

      kiss our big azz you freak!!!

      August 11, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • boiled over

      my grandmother passed away from this heat! don't know where you live but i hope something happens to you or your family

      August 11, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. TheEnergyGuy

    I was in Waco for a job interview in late summer 1981. Being from the Philadelphia area, I was told, "All you snow birds are moving south. Pretty soon you'll all be living down here with us in paradise." Well they couldn't have paid me enough money to move down there. I just told them that it was shame that they had never traveled.

    August 11, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Texas wimps

    Give it a rest. People in Arizona live with this all summer long. You want real heat? Go to Yuma, Az,

    August 11, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • who cares

      II would bet it's not 99 degrees in yuma at 12:00am....plus I would take 120 in the dry desert air than 106 with 80% relative humidity any day!

      August 11, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Steve

    I dont believe it. Im with Rush. I think it's a liberal conspiracy.

    August 11, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
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