TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — You may have gotten the alert on your phone: The city of Austin issued a heat warning Saturday and opened cooling centers as temperatures reach and surpass record territory. Highs will top 100, hitting 107 in some places in Central Texas.
The National Weather Service issued a rare excessive heat warning until Sunday at 7 p.m.
The city of Austin recommended drinking lots of water, taking breaks in the shade if you absolutely have to be outside and knowing where to go if you need to cool off.
Many people were choosing to do that at Barton Springs on Saturday including Aliyah Valli.
“It [the water] is very refreshing,” Valli said. “It is burning up [outside].”
Stephanie Brown and Niels Paetow, Austinites, were also at Barton Springs because of the “hundred-plus degree weather.”
“It’s real nice, lot of people out here, loving the Austin vibes,” Paetow said.
The city is operating cooling centers as a result of the high temperatures. Locations include many Austin Public Library branches, Austin Recreation Centers and Austin Senior Centers. Those centers will be available during normal hours and will not offer overnight shelter. Only service animals are allowed at those locations.
You can find KXAN’s forecast here. You can find free and cheap things to do in Austin when it’s hot here.
HVAC technicians face the heat
James Sanchez with McCullough Heating & Air Conditioning said his calls have more than doubled recently because of the rising temperatures.
“Everybody is trying to run as many calls as they can, as much as our bodies allow us,” Sanchez said.
The McCullough Heating & Air Conditioning employee has been working nonstop. General Manager Al D’Andrea said it’s been busy for a while.
“I feel bad for homeowners and just people in Austin because the demand is so strong,” D’Andrea said.
Not only is the demand heating up but the industry is facing another challenge — staffing shortages.
“There’s this shortage, and it’s growing,” he said.
Workforce Solutions Capital Area estimates that by 2031 the Austin area will need 4,156 HVAC mechanics. D’Andrea believes there could be several reasons for the shortage.
“I think two things: One is, I think children nowadays don’t use tools, they don’t do mechanical things,” D’Andrea explained. “I think we’ve also come out of a period where it was believed that everybody had to go to college. That college was the ticket and I think that’s changed.”
Workforce Solutions Capital Area reports $44,000 as the median annual income. D’Andrea said those interested in the field could eventually make up to $100,000 annually.
“You have to get experience. It takes a little bit of time to get your income up there,” D’Andrea said, “but if you’re good in your work it’s there.”
Those at the nonprofit Skillpoint Alliance, which provides free training for HVAC technicians and helps connect students with employers, believe the growing area plays a role in the demand for skilled workers.
“Right now in the Austin area, there is a great need for HVAC technicians, including service techs and installers,” said Kevin Brackmeyer, the nonprofit’s executive director said. “This can be attributed to not only the heat and climate, which puts a strain on units but also the widespread development across our region.”
For those hoping to stay cool throughout the summer, Sanchez had this advice for their A/C unit.
“Your A/C unit can only do so much,” Sanchez said. “Be patient. Do not drop your temperature below 75 degrees — let the system work. It can only do so much, especially with this high heat.”