AUSTIN (KXAN) — After Austin broke its all-time record this summer for most consecutive days above 100 degrees, city officials announced Wednesday it was shutting down its extreme heat resources for the season.
With sub-100-degree temperatures back continuously on the forecast, the City of Austin’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management said it will “halt operations related to heat,” including its cooling centers and misting canopy pilot.
“We appreciate all the work that went into keeping our community informed and safe. We are thankful to all our library and parks staff who helped provide Cooling Center services to our community,” Ken Snipes, director for HSEM, said in the release. “Our emergency responders did an amazing job putting out fires, treating those who experienced heat-related illnesses and responding to those who needed medical attention. As we move into our next season, I ask everyone in our community to use our preparedness resources to learn how to become more resilient before for the next extreme heat event.”
The National Weather Service issued 38 excessive heat warnings during the summer, per the release. The city’s public libraries and parks and recreation facilities served dual purposes on those days, operating as cooling centers to give temporary relief to residents and visitors.
Days that featured excessive heat warnings also resulted in extended operating hours for the city’s cooling centers, officials added in the release.
Alongside its cooling centers, Austin HSEM kickstarted its misting canopy pilot program this summer. On days with excessive heat warnings, city crews set up a misting canopy at Republic Square Park in downtown Austin while also passing out cold water bottles.
That service began in mid-July, with 26 days in operation and more than 19,000 water bottles distributed, per the release.
This summer’s extensive heat also resulted in an uptick in heat-related illness calls and grass and brush fires. Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services responded to 944 heat-related calls between May 1 and Sept. 25, while Austin Public Health recorded 1,518 hospital visits due to heat.
The Austin Fire Department assisted on 923 grass and brush fires from May 1 through Sept. 1, as well as worked with area agencies to respond to hundreds of fires in surrounding communities.