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Cooling centers open across North Texas as temperatures rise

A worker wearing a hat and holding a tool is silhouetted against the sun.
Yfat Yossifor
/
KERA
Texas has seen record high temperatures in recent years.

With summer temperatures setting in, recreation centers and libraries in cities across North Texas are acting as cooling centers for people who need to get out of the heat.

In Dallas, more than 40 locations are offering their spaces for people to cool down. Dallas Area Rapid Transit centers will also be offering their spaces starting Friday.

Fort Worth also has a few cooling stations and two nonprofits in Arlington have offered their spaces during the daytime.

“Cooling centers and distribution of portable ACs could play a crucial role of relief for Dallas residents dealing with summer heat,” Jennifer Brown, assistant director for City of Dallas, said in an email.

Last summer, the city saw 55 days of temperatures at or above 100 degrees and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration reported it as the hottest year recorded in Texas.

As temperatures continue to rise in Texas, the risk of heat exhaustion and stroke does, too. Heat is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S. and this summer is expected to have some of the highest temperatures in recorded history.

Young children, the elderly and people with disabilities or chronic illnesses are at higher risk for heat exhaustion and heat strokes. In 2023 alone, more than 300 Texans died from heat and more than 2,000 deaths in the U.S. were heat related.

Beau Burelsmith with city of Dallas water distribution, left, picks up cooling kits from CEO Trina Terrell Andrews for his crew working on a main break Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023, at Mark Cuban Heroes Basketball Center in Dallas.
Yfat Yossifor
/
KERA
Beau Burelsmith with city of Dallas water distribution, left, picks up cooling kits from CEO Trina Terrell Andrews for his crew working on a main break Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023, at Mark Cuban Heroes Basketball Center in Dallas.

Some cities have also partnered with other organizations to provide extra resources to communities. Dallas residents, for example, can sign up to be entered into a raffle to receive a window AC unit for their homes.

Texas has seen record-high temperatures in recent years. February had its third hottest day on record with a high of 94 degrees. The second-hottest was 95 degrees in 1996 and first was 96 degrees in 1906.

Although excessive heat hasn’t caused outages to the Texas electric grid in 18 years, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas has entered many summers now with the possibility of tight supply. High temperatures can strain the grid as people increase their usage of air conditioning, and ERCOT issued a weather watch last month “due to unseasonably high temperatures” that could’ve led to outages.

As of Monday afternoon, more than 200 Dallas County and over 100 Tarrant County residents were without power, but the reasons for these outages are unknown.

Penelope Rivera is KERA's summer 2024 Scripps Howard news intern. She graduated from the University of North Texas in May with a B.A. in Digital and Print Journalism.