Laredo, Texas: Where 99 degrees is a nice break in the heat.
Laredo, Texas: The city rain forgot.
Laredo, Texas: “Thank goodness we have air conditioning!”
Maybe the first two wouldn’t make great slogans for Laredo, but the third could work; it’s a quote from Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz, it’s catchy -- and it’s definitely true.
Much of the southwestern United States is experiencing a late-August heat wave that has been relentless and isn’t expected to end soon.
“California, the Great Basin, Desert Southwest and Intermountain West region will be hot and mainly dry into Labor Day weekend, with many area having temperatures as much as 4-14 degrees Fahrenheit above normal,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jack Boston.
Laredo, however, has taken it to the extremes. The city has experienced 34 straight days -- and counting -- during which the high temperature has reached at least 100 degrees. That’s Laredo’s longest stretch since 2015 when it put together a 48-day streak of triple-digit temperatures. Last year, the city’s longest 100-degree streak was 14 days and it was 12 in 2017.
Through the first 29 days of August, daily temperatures in Laredo are 3.2 degrees above the 30-year normal temperatures. The last day the high temperature wasn’t at least 100 degrees was July 26, when it plummeted to 99. And the high temperature hasn’t been below 90 degrees since May 14, when there were still 39 days until the start of summer.
“We’re a semi-arid, semi-desert climate here, so the people who live in the Laredo region are somewhat accustomed to it,” said Saenz, a lifelong resident. “We’ve adapted. We’ve also recognized the dangers, so we take precautions. We stay hydrated, we stay in the shady areas -- thank goodness we have air conditioning. It’s a must.”
During the current 34-day streak, the high temperature reached 109 three times and from Aug. 8-18, the high temperature was at least 107 all 11 days.
Laredo residents can keep their umbrellas in storage this year. Since June 1, Laredo has had just 0.68 of an inch of rain, which is just 11% of the 30-year normal amount of rainfall. The city hasn’t recorded more than a trace of rain since June 26.
The 34-day streak may end Saturday, however. The AccuWeather forecast for Laredo calls for a high temperature of 99 degrees.
The cadence of life shifts in Laredo as people avoid outdoor daytime activities if possible and do outside projects and chores in the early morning or at night.
“But keep in mind,” Saenz said, “the evening at 9, you’re still talking about 90-degree weather.”
It’s so hot in Laredo during the day that people don’t even want to be outside to go swimming.
“We usually don’t see too many people swimming from when we open at 2 until 5,” said Enrique Gomez, event coordinator for Laredo Parks and Recreation Aquatics. “There are more people after 5. But people get super tired of the sun after a couple of weeks.”
The excessive, endless heat can take a toll on a person over a period of time, according to AccuWeather Founder and CEO Dr. Joel N. Myers.
“Clearly if a heat wave goes on for 10 days, 12 days or more ... it can be devastating,” Myers said. “Your body has a certain amount of resiliency, but the longer the heat wave goes, the more it creates stress on your body and the more it takes out of you.”
Saenz says there have been no incidents of heatstroke or heat exhaustion this year, so clearly Laredo residents have a healthy respect for what the heat can do. Visitors, however, are taken aback.
“When we have dignitaries from Washington who come here, it’s the first thing they mention, especially on the hotter days,” Saenz said. “They say, ‘It’s like a wall of heat here.’ You step out of the plane and sure enough it just kind of hits you.”
There it is. Laredo, Texas: Welcome to our wall of heat!