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U.S. Texas Suffers 2nd Hottest Summer on Record

Texas, the second largest state of the United States, just recorded its second hottest summer on record, The Texas Tribune reported on Thursday.

The average temperature in Texas was 85.3 degrees Fahrenheit between June and the end of August, the state’s climatologist said, putting it behind only 2011 for summer misery. The average temperature hit 86.8 degrees Fahrenheit in Texas in 2011.

Some Texan cities, including El Paso in the west and Austin in the central area, went more than 40 days without a single day that didn’t reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

According to The Texas Tribune’s analysis, 79 of the state’s 254 counties had their hottest summer on record, while the July average water temperature in the Gulf of Mexico was the hottest ever recorded.

Furthermore, August clocked in as the second hottest month in Texas since 1895 when the state began keeping records.

Across the state, at least 97 people have died from the heat, or hyperthermia, said the report, citing an early analysis of death certificates by the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The relentless heat also caused smog pollution to surge all over the state, as high temperatures accelerated reactions between vehicle and industrial pollution to form ozone, according to the report.

Triple-digit temperatures dry the moisture out of grasses, trees and brush, said Luke Kanclerz, a fire analyst for Texas A&M Forest Service. “We accelerated very quickly into a very active and notable summer fire season.”

In August, Texas A&M Forest Service responded to more than 500 wildfires in the state, more than triple the typical number of fires for the month.

The drought and heat also hurt agriculture, a key sector of the state’s economy. Texas rice fields and pecan trees are both stressed, and cattle ranchers have been forced to cull their herds and sell calves early, according to a recent report on Texas crops from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

There are many social consequences of high temperatures, too, ranging from increases in crime and aggression to increased rates of depression and suicidal ideation, researchers have found.

John Nielsen-Gammon, the state climatologist, said this summer’s high temperatures were particularly driven by climate change, an usually warm Gulf of Mexico, and the weather patterns that led to dry conditions in July and August. 

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