A slow-moving depression strengthened into a tropical storm as it slogged toward the Gulf Coast on Friday, packing walloping rains that could drench the region with up to 20 inches.

Tropical Storm Lee, the 12th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, was moving northwest at just 2 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The storm's center is expected to approach the Louisiana coast over the weekend.

Image courtesy National Weather Service

The sweltering heat in Texas has taken Austin past an important milestone: We have set a new record for the number of days with triple digit temperatures in a single year.

At 2:00 this afternoon, thermometers at Camp Mabry registered 100 degrees, making it the 70th time this year that has happened. It breaks the previous record of 69 days set in 1925.

“This is just one way to measure the absolute severity of the summer,” Lower Colorado River Authority meteorologist Bob Rose told KUT News. “We’ve had a lot of days at 99 as well, and they’ve felt every bit as hot.”

Hot Jobs In The City

Aug 5, 2011

Photo by National Weather Service

With a heat advisory in effect until Friday night, the City of Austin is initiating Phase 1 of its heat emergency plan. Phase 1 involves monitoring “at-risk” people for signs of heat-related illness.

These are people the city defines as at-risk:

Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

Crack open an ice cold drink and give yourself a pat on the back: you just survived the hottest month in Austin history.

The average daily temperature for July 2011 was 89.7 degrees. The previous record for the hottest month was set in July 2009, when the average daily temperature was 89.5 degrees.

Don't expect it to get cooler anytime soon. The National Weather Service forecasts highs of 104 degrees or higher all week long.

Photo by KUT News.

High Temperatures in Forecast, Hopes of Rain

Triple-digit temperatures are welcoming us into August with the 48th day of highs over 100. Austin residents had hopes Tropical Storm Don would bring rain over the weekend, but no such luck. Expect the next few days to be near record levels, around 104-106 degrees.

Perry's Inner Circle

Photo by KUT News

In case you haven't noticed, it is hot, hot, hot outside and Central Texas is in need of some showers. Late July and early August are normally the driest and hottest parts of the summer, so the chance of rain is slim.

KUT News

Fireworks displays have been banned, lakes drying up and crops scorched. It's safe to say the drought in Central Texas is bad. And it's not over yet.

Photo by jdeeringdavis

Water fountains at the University of Texas at Austin will go dry on Monday as UT begins implementing voluntary Stage 2 water conservation measures. UT expects doing this will save more than 300,000 gallons each month on the 40 acres.

Photo by pedroesteban86

Travel may be slowly returning to normal at Dallas' largest airport, but many people are still stranded after hail storms suspended service last night. NBC Dallas-Fort Worth says about 10,000 people got stuck when airport officials took tornado precautions and pulled passengers off planes.

Photo by Mose Buchele for KUT News

Update at 8:50 am Friday: Austin Energy says power was completely restored to customers at 3 am. Here's their final release.

The majority of outages were due to either tree limbs on power lines or lightning strikes. In all repairs had to be made at more than 260 locations. Many of those repairs were on lines located at the rear of properties rather than at the street. This prevents the use of bucket trucks and requires materials be carried in through backyards, tree trimmers climb trees to remove limbs in power lines and linemen climb poles to make the necessary repairs. About half of the Austin Energy electric system is located at the back of lots rather than at the street.

Update at 5:26 pm: Austin Energy now says the number of people without power is down to 2,400.

Update at 4:50 pm: Austin Energy says the number of people without power is now below 5,000.

Earlier: Austin Energy says it currently has about 11,500 customers without power at 140 different locations across the city. The worst affected area is this part of southeast Austin, where more than 1,700 people are without electricity.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

A large area of rain and thunderstorms moved into Central Texas this morning bringing much needed moisture to our drought stricken region.  Almost two inches of rain fell at Camp Mabry this morning with another one to two inches on the way. A flood advisory was issued until noon.

Photo by Whatknot

Historically dry conditions have brought the the Texas agriculture industry to its knees, according to the Texas Farm Bureau's board of directors. The board met for its quarterly meeting in Waco today and released this statement.

Photo by Mississippi Emergency Management Agency

Five Central Texas residents left Austin for Jackson, Mississippi this morning to help provide food, first aid and mental health services to people whose communities were devastated by storms that spawned tornadoes. At least 32 people in north and central Mississippi were killed, according to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).

A strange and unusual cloud rolled in over Central Texas last night, and people took out their cell phones to capture video of it. One person even set up a Facebook fan page that already has more than 2,000 "likes".

Image by National Weather Service

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a tornado watch for Travis, Bastrop, Williamson, Hays and other Central Texas counties. As of this posting, the tornado watch was due to expire at 10 pm.  You can find the latest information from the NWS here.

Photo courtesy of the National Weather Service


The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory for the Austin area until 4 p.m.  The advisory warns of 30 mph winds, with wind gusts up to 40 mph. As the cold front moves through south central Texas, winds are expected to gradually die down throughout the evening.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport
Image by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The two-day winter storm has ended in the northeast, but the effort to dig out from the snow is still going strong. Some flights to the region from Austin are still being canceled and the Wall Street Journal reports that it could take days to clear the backlog of travelers.

Several factors stood to delay a full resumption of flights, including the need to plow gates and get airport staff and flight crews back in place.


Dry lakebed
Image courtesy Whatknot

The latest US Drought Monitor Map, released this morning, shows 85 percent of Texas is "abnormally dry."

Eighty Texas counties currently have burn bans in effect, according to a Texas Parks and Wildlife map. Travis County is not currently under a burn ban but the neighboring counties of Williamson, Lee, Burnet, and Blanco are.