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Texas Town Hits 100 Days of 100-Degree Heat

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Current drought conditions in the United States. (Image credit: National Drought Mitigation Center, NOAA, USDA.)

In Wichita Falls, Texas, the heat so far this year has hit 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) a whopping 100 times.

The city of 107,000 northwest of Dallas near the Oklahoma border now has the dubious distinction of being the first Texas city to have 100 such days in a single year. With this string of scorching days, Wichita Falls bested its 1980 record of 79 days of 100 F temperatures. The record came on the same day that Dallas set its own city record for most 100 F days in a year with 70.

Wichita Falls, which lies in a valley on the south banks of the Red River, had its first 100 F day on April 6. The city's normal average temperature during April is 60.4 F (15.8 C).

"It's just a very arid region," said Forrest Mitchell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oklahoma City, which covers Wichita Falls. "And of course the ongoing drought has been a contributing factor."

Anepic drought, scorching heat and deadly wildfires have plagued Texas for months and continue to singe the land. Texas' current drought is the most severe one-year drought on record, according to Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon of Texas A&M University.

Wichita Falls has had only 4.16 inches (10.6 centimeters) of rain this year, almost 17 inches (43.2 cm) below what they typically have by this time of year, Mitchell told OurAmazingPlanet.

When the ground has no moisture, temperatures tend to warm up more quickly because the air is less humid, there's more sunshine and higher pressure aloft.

The entire state of Texas is feeling the heat. August 2011 was the hottest month in Texas history, according to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). Statewide, the average temperature was 88.1 F (31.2 C) in August, breaking the previous record of 87.1 F (30.6 C) set last month.

San Angelo, Texas, could become the next city to hit the 100 days milestone. The central Texas city has had 97 such days as of Sept. 13. However, a cold front coming through this week, and the possibility of another one next week, could kill the heat. But with the hellish weather Texas has seen this year, a record can't be ruled out yet.

"We were having 100-degree days in April when the average temperature was lower than it is now," said Nick Reimer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Angelo.

Outside of Texas, another city today should hit a hot weather milestone. Today (Sept. 14), Atlanta is expected to have its 90th day of at least 90 F (32 C) heat. ­

You can follow OurAmazingPlanet staff writer Brett Israel on Twitter: @btisrael. Follow OurAmazingPlanet for the latest in Earth science and exploration news on Twitter @OAPlanet and on Facebook.

Brett Israel was a staff writer for Live Science with a focus on environmental issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from The University of Georgia, a master’s degree in journalism from New York University, and has studied doctorate-level biochemistry at Emory University.