AUSTIN (KXAN) — Average temperatures across Central Texas have been rising for a few years. It seems like each late spring/summer season get hotter and hotter due, in part, to climate change. Austin experienced one of its hottest summers ever when, in 2022, the number of triple-digit high temperatures reached 68.

The climb in temperatures creates more times of extreme heat. More extreme heat lead to an increasing health threat.

The National Weather Service reports that in calendar year 2021, heat-related deaths far outpaced any other weather type with 375 fatalities. The number of flood-related fatalities was a distant second with 146. GEO Health conducted a study showing that at least 12,000 people in the United States from 2000 to 2010 died because of heat.

Courtesy: National Weather Service

So, it comes as no surprise as the temperatures rise so, too, does the number of people who lose their lives.

Climate Central looked at a region’s minimum mortality temperature as one important factor in their findings.

What is that? It “is the daily average temperature at which the risk of heat-related death is lowest. It’s a signal of how humans adapt to their local climate.

Austin’s minimum mortality temperature is 87°, making it one of the warmest cities in the study. Most of our locals are used to the warmer temperatures so that they have an easier time to adjust to those heat-related risks. Among those adjustments is something as simple as air conditioning.

What Climate Central did was look at the number of days in the calendar year when Austin’s average temperature was above 87°, our city’s minimum mortality temperature.

They determined that these risky heat days increased by 53 days between 1970 to 2022. Austin finished sixth nationally in the annual number of days where the MMT was above 87°. The Capitol City lead all Texas cities in this area with McAllen seventh (52 days) and Houston eighth (51 days).

Climate change factors into risky heat days

That average of 53 days was affected significantly by there being 74 days when Austin’s MMT reached a degree or more higher that 87°. Twenty-nine of those days happened in July when the MMT was 90.6°.

Who’s at risk when these days happen? Just about all of us, really. Those who may be affected more than others are children, adults ages 65 and over, people with illness, athletes who train outside in the heat and those whose work keeps them in the heat.

With Austin being an urban heat island these heat risk days may also affect people of color and those who live below the poverty line.

This summer season is looking like it won’t be as hot as it was in 2022. Some of our models are showing some promise of the summer (June, July, and August) being wetter than normal. This could translate into a summer season cooler than what we had last year.