County hits record triple digits for 32 days this summer
Last updated 9/5/2023 at 7:02pm
Heat readings for the summer of 2023 have reached a record high, with the Orange County Airport gauges recording 32 days of 100 degrees or hotter for June through August.
Two more 100 degree days have already happened in September.
And as Orange County continues to sizzle with only scattered rain, smoke from marsh fires and grass fires fills the dry air.
"People are scared, and rightly so," said Captain Joey Jacobs of the Orange County Sheriff's Office. He is licensed to pilot a drone and was called out five or six times during the Labor Day weekend to help firefighters determine the path of some wildfires.
Luckily, despite scattered fires, Orange County has did not have a large, major burn during the weekend. Captain Jacobs said marsh fires blew smoke into Bridge City and then, with a wind change, into the Vidor area.
The drones help firefighters determine how far a wildfire reaches and whether evacuations might be needed. So far, no evacuations have been called.
Meteorologist George Flickinger is a graduate of West Orange-Stark High and got his meteorology degree from Texas A&M. He has been a television meteorologist for television stations and in recent years is the head of the weather department at WSET in Lynchburg, Virginia. He keeps up with his hometown, where his mother, Rebecca Flickinger, still lives.
This week, he checked the records from the National Weather Service station at the Orange County Airport and counted the 100 degree or more days for the past 44 years, back to 1980. This year will set the record with 32 days of 100 degrees or more. Not only is it a record, it's way ahead of any other year.
Going back to 1980, the net closed year with the three-digit temperatures was in 2011, with 11 days. There were nine 100 degree or more days in 2000 and six in 2015.
Other heat waves came in 1902, 1940, and 1962. On August 27, the airport here reached 109 degrees, for a new all-time record, beating the 105 degrees in 1962. That record was surpassed four other times this August.
The record heat with little rain and low humidity has put the county in the extreme drought conditions and severe fire danger. Dead leaves are now on trees and shrubs. Grasses are brown and shriveled.
Flickinger even talked about how his mother's azalea bushes, a prized flowering landscape plant here, have all turned brown. The Orange County Master Gardeners are advising people not to trim the browned trees and shrubs at this time.
Watering can also be hard. The heat and drought is drying up the soil, causing underground municipal water pipes to break. In addition, water supplies have been dwindling in cities.
The city of Orange has moved into the Phase 3 stage of water conservation and even turned off the spigots at the Navy Park splash pad. Parts of West Orange in the Orange County Water and Improvement District 2 are under a boil water notice because of a pipe break.
The U.S. National Weather Service in Lake Charles is also reporting the hottest summer on record. Meteorologists there said the the climatological summer is June through August. Both August and the summer have set regional records for heat.
"To say it was hot and dry across our area in August would be a supreme understatement," the Lake Charles office reported. All five primary categories for heat and lack of rain had records set last month. In Beaumont, August 27 set a record of 111 degrees.
Local fire officials even advised against holiday backyard barbecues and gave safety tips for those using their grills and smokers. Anyone cooking outside, should also make sure they have a shovel, water hose, or fire extinguisher nearby.
Some scattered rain is in the forecast for this week, but not enough to relieve the drought conditions. Another 100 degree day is forecast for Thursday with the rest of the next seven days in the upper 90s.