Extreme heat hits Central Texas

It’s hot. You can see the heat radiate off roadways and from the faces of construction workers.

Beating the August heat is practically impossible at job sites all across Central Texas. Tracy Wilson, who has a fence building business, says keeping his crews safe will cut into the number of contracts he expects to complete this summer.

"Start early and then leave early, because it gets hot…a lot of water, that’s pretty much all you can do," Wilson said. "Stay in the truck as much as you can and get AC."

The heat can also land you in jail.

That's what happened to Camilia Del Rio Espinoza. She was arrested Monday and charged with cruelty to animals. According to court documents, an Austin police officer found her overheated bulldog in her parked car on 6th Street.

Emergency calls for humans have also increased over the past few days because of the hot weather. As of mid-day Tuesday, ATCEMS reported more than 50 heat-related incidents, resulting in about 30 trips to local hospitals.

The extreme heat has also resulted in the fire risk being elevated to extreme. Liberty Hill Battalion Chief Levi Bizzell says a small spark now can cause a big problem. 

"Be extremely careful out there, you got to watch your cigarettes butts, please don’t throw them out, trailer chains dragging the ground, welders, be super careful, when you are welding have a 5-gallon bucket of water with you,” said Bizzell.

The heat recently contributed to a fire, according to Bizzell, that started in the strangest way.

"We had an actual owl that had landed on a power line, caught on fire and fell to the ground and started a fire,” said Bizzell. 

Hot popping power lines are monitored in Taylor at ERCOT. Grid managers have spent the past several days keeping the lights on. The agency posted on Monday that peak demand hit back-to-back-to-back all-time highs. By mid-day Tuesday it appeared another high demand, record-breaking day was in the making. An emergency conservation alert was issued, but was lifted around 5:15 p.m.

There is an old-fashioned way of tracking the heat. The National Weather Service posted on social media that you can tell the temperature by listening to a cricket. To calculate a rough estimate, count the number of chirps, within 15 seconds, and then add the number 40. That gets you pretty close to the temperature in Fahrenheit.

Another high heat indicator was this paving project near Liberty Hill. It was so hot the sheriff's office issued an advisory that the tar being used was sticking more on passing vehicles than to the road base itself.