Slight relief from the heat coming

Heat index stays high as humidity persists

HOUSTON - If Houston's summer of 2011 had faded from your memory, the last couple of days have surely been a jolting reminder of the misery we suffered through for months last year.  Fortunately, we've got a reprieve coming as we head toward the weekend. 

Temperatures should fall below 100 Thursday, and into the low- to mid-90s by Saturday as clouds thicken and the chance for rain goes up.

This week's heat has been the result of a big dome of high pressure covering much of the center of the country. The heat wave has extended all the way to the Great Lakes. It's the exact same weather pattern that caused the summer-long heat wave last year. 

The difference between last summer and this week is that the high pressure over southeastern Texas will be temporarily nudged out of the area over the next couple of days as a low pressure system works into the the state from the Gulf of Mexico. Last year, the high pressure dome didn't retreat at all.

Simply put, the low will bring more clouds, lower temperatures and scattered showers and storms as we hit the weekend. On the down side, humidity levels will likely stay high, so we'll still be feeling sticky when we're enjoying the outdoors.

By next week, high pressure may likely settle back in, causing another rise in temperatures.  This isn't a guarantee at this point, but the KPRC Local 2 Severe Weather Team be keeping an eye on the forecast and let you know how things change.

During the triple-digit days, many Houstonians had to find ways to keep cool. Road construction workers had to deal with some of the toughest conditions.

"When we see anybody that's overheated, we get them to the shade, take them to the office and get medical attention," construction worker Shorty Serrano said.

Athletes who try to push themselves to the limit are just as vulnerable. Coaches made adjustments to practice schedules to keep everyone safe.

"It's a concern," football coach Jason Guthrie said. "Water breaks every 15 minutes."

There was a heat advisory on Wednesday, and officials said they hoped that people without air conditioning in their home went somewhere cool.

"Go to a mall, go to a public library, go to one of the cooling centers," Mayor Annise Parker said.

Warning signs for heat stroke:

  • Not sweating
  • Collapsing
  • Becoming incoherent
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Body Temperature of 106 degrees or higher
  • Seizure

People who exhibit signs of heat stroke should do the following:

  • Call 911
  • Get out of the sun and go indoors or to a shady area
  • Cool with water, but not ice water
  • If someone is seizing, protect them from injury, but do not put anything in their mouth

There are several steps that can be taken to prevent heat-related injuries:

  • Drink plenty of cool water or other non-carbonated drinks
  • Take breaks about every hour and get out of the sun and cool down for at least 10 minutes
  • Wear hats, sunglasses and cotton or other natural fiber clothing
  • Use sunscreen to protect uncovered skin
  • If drinking sports drinks, cut them 50/50 with cold water
  • Do not use salt tablets -- drink sports drinks to replenish electrolytes

People who exhibit signs of a heat-related illness should do the following:

  • Get out of the sun and cool down
  • Sip cool water or 50 percent water/sports drink
  • Rest for at least 30 minutes after the symptoms end
  • Limit activity in the sun for the rest of the day
  • For chest pain or shortness of breath, call 911

Pets can suffer heat-related problems, too. Make sure they always have clean, fresh water available and access to shade or the indoors.

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