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Heat Wave Bakes San Antonio Region As Water Restrictions Are Activated

JJ Harrison
Wikimedia Commons

The Texas summer of 2020 took a turn for the worse this week. Triple-digit temperatures throughout the weekend scorched the San Antonio region and forced officials in San Antonio and New Braunfels to issue drought restrictions.

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for the San Antonio area through the weekend. Heat index values up to 110 were expected.

Accuweather forecaster Dan Kottlowski believes South and West Texas will continue to see severe heat for the next few weeks, in part because of a high pressure system over the desert Southwest that is trapping heat over the Lone Star State. Temperature records in West Texas may be incinerated in the coming days.

He reminded everyone that it was very important to drink plenty of water during a heat wave.

“When this kind of heat occurs, again you can dehydrate very easily and you can also succumb to heat stroke," he cautioned.

But as residents were advised to increase their own water intake, they were cautioned against using too much water elsewhere.

According to the San Antonio Water System, the 10-day average at San Antonio’s monitoring well of the Edwards Aquifer dropped to 659.8, requiring a return to Stage 1 watering rules, effective on July 10.

When in Stage 1, outdoor watering with a sprinkler or irrigation system is allowed only before 11 a.m. and after 7 p.m., one day per week, as determined by the last number of your street address.

Addresses ending in 0 and 1 are scheduled for Mondays, 2 and 3 for Tuesdays, 4 and 5 Wednesdays, 6 and 7 Thursdays and addresses ending in 8 or 9 can water Fridays.

Watering days begin and end at midnight; overnight watering is not allowed. However, watering with a handheld hose is allowed any day at any time.

New Braunfels utility officials issued similar restrictions beginning on July 9, also based on the level detected at the Edwards Aquifer.

Lawn sprinklers and irrigation systems can only be used once a week based on street address.

The same address-day watering schedule applies to residents in New Braunfels.

Insufficient rainfall, consistent high temperatures and increased water usage have all contributed to lowering the aquifer level.

Paul Bertetti, director of aquifer science at the Edwards Aquifer Authority, also expected more hot and dry conditions for the coming days, which include consistently high temperatures at or above 100 degrees.

“I don’t expect that there is any real relief in sight," he said. "The ten day forecast doesn’t really show any significant chance for rainfall in the next couple of weeks. The models seem to agree with that.”

He added that San Antonio is about three inches behind in total rainfall for the year. Little rain fell in June, one of the area’s rainer months.

Water restrictions were not the only consequences of the expected stretch of hot weather.

In San Antonio, the Metropolitan Health District issued a heat advisory. City-run cooling centers will remain open and will observe COVID-19 precautions, including face coverings, screening, sanitation and social distancing guidelines.

In Comal County, the commissioners court implemented a ban on outdoor burning. Under the restrictions, no open flames are allowed outdoors – including trash burning, campfires and torches, among others. Residents may use a barbecue pit with an open flame for cooking purposes only if the grill has a lid and is set off the ground.

Residents were also advised to take extra care with their pets during the heat wave. Animal Care Services warned pets can suffer from heat-related illness and death.

Lisa Norwood, an ACS spokeswoman, said the law requires pet owners to provide shade and water that their animals can access all day.

Norwood added that very old or very young animals, those with heavy and dark coats, and those with short muzzles can have difficulty with the heat.

She said giving dogs a summer hair trim actually removes insulation and protection from sunburn.

“We do suggest that as it gets hotter that you don’t go for that bald look that a lot of people go for,” Norwood advised.

She said symptoms of animals under heat duress include excessive thirst, lethargy or restlessness, rapid heart beat, drooling, and nausea. If those symptoms develop, the animal should be rushed to a vet.

Brian Kirkpatrick and Jerry Clayton contributed to this report.
Steve Short can be reached at Steve@tpr.org.
Lauren Terrazas can be reached at Lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter at @terrazas_lauren.

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Lauren Terrazas can be reached at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter at @terrazas_lauren