At least 13 dead in Texas as scorching temps continue

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(HOUSTON) — At least 13 people have died from heat-related illness in Texas, The Associated Press reported.

Ten deaths due to heat illness were reported in Webb County and another death occurred in Galveston County in the past two weeks, local officials told ABC News, as the Southern U.S. grapples with a weeks-long heat wave and triple-digit temperatures.

Emergency room visits in Texas between June 18 and June 24 have spiked compared to the same time last year as the state battles an early onset of extreme heat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The region averaged 837 heat-related visits per 100,000 ER visits compared to 639 visits per 100,000 emergency department visits during the same period in 2022, CDC data shows.

Much of the South is experiencing waves of extreme heat far earlier in the season than normal. This has been particularly true of Texas, where temperatures have regularly exceeded 100 degrees for several weeks.

On Wednesday, temperatures in Texas reached 107 degrees in Corpus Christi, 108 degrees in Austin and 109 degrees in Houston.

On Monday, Laredo and San Angelo tied their all-time recorded hottest temperatures at 115 degrees and 111 degrees, respectively.

This level of heat in Texas isn’t considered novel but it typically isn’t seen until July and August. When Houston exceeded the 100-degree mark on Wednesday for the first time this season, it did so a full month earlier than it usually does, records show.

The death toll is likely to rise as the scorching temperatures continue, officials said.

Across the country, heat indexes are measuring in the triple digits, with states including New Mexico and Oklahoma all under heat alerts on Thursday.

Human-caused climate change is making near-record heat in parts of Texas at least five times more likely, according to an analysis by the nonprofit climate change research organization Climate Central.

Heat is the number-one weather-related killer in the world, with more than 600 people dying from heat-related illnesses every year in the U.S., according to the CDC.

The U.S. could soon be paying an additional $1 billion in healthcare expenses each summer due to forecasts of continuing waves of extreme heat in the near future, according to a new report by Virginia Commonwealth University and the think tank Center for American Progress.

An increase in prolonged periods of high heat has coincided with the increase in heat-related illness, the report found.

If greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced, Americans could experience on average up to 53 days every year in which temperatures exceed 95 degrees, according to a report by the consulting firm ICF International.

ABC News’ Gina Sunseri, Flor Tolentino, Jennifer Watts and Tracy Wholf contributed to this report.

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