The ongoing heat wave continues to beat down on Houston, causing a temporary grounding of flights at Hobby Airport and prompting the city to again open cooling centers for vulnerable residents Sunday. The high temperatures show no sign of letting up soon.

An air conditioning outage at the air traffic control tower at William P. Hobby Airport led to a brief ground stop Saturday evening.

Augusto Bernal, director of communications at the Houston Airport System, said the ground stop did not result in major delays.

“There wasn’t that much impact for passengers,” he added.

The city of Houston planned to open three cooling centers Sunday for residents without air conditioning to take refuge from the extreme heat.

The Acres Homes Multi-Service Center, 6719 W. Montgomery Rd.; Sunnyside Health and Multi-Service Center, 4410 Reed Rd.; and Moody Community Center, 3725 Fulton St  will be open from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. 

Those without transportation can call 311 to request a free ride to one of the cooling centers. The YMCA of Greater Houston also will open its locations as cooling centers Sunday, said the city, which activates its emergency plan when heat index values rise above 108 degrees for two consecutive days.

Meanwhile, the city of Katy is asking residents to conserve water during this stretch of abnormally high temperatures. Katy currently is in the second stage of its drought contingency plan and aims to reduce water use by 10 percent, in part by asking residents to limit watering to three times a week and only during early morning and evening hours.

Much of southeastern Harris County currently is experiencing a moderate drought, while other areas of the county are considered abnormally dry, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

This all comes as the heat wave affecting large swaths of Texas shows no signs of letting up. Bexar and Travis counties are in more severe stages of drought.

A heat advisory remains in place until 10 p.m. Sunday in parts of Harris, Liberty, Chambers and Galveston counties. The heat index, or what the temperature feels like when combined with humidity, is expected to hover between 106 and 111 degrees there, according to the National Weather Service.

According to Space City Weather, slightly drier air and a few more clouds in the sky this week should bring down heat index values slightly. “So while temperatures will still be in the upper 90s to 100 degrees, it should feel a little bit less hot during the daytime,” Houston meteorologist and Space City founder Eric Berger wrote.

A young man drinks a beverage during a hot day
Esteban Ruiz, right, 21, takes a sip from his cup under the shade of a tree at Moody Park in Houston, June 26, 2023. To avoid heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke, experts advise people to drink more water than normal. (Darío De León for Houston Landing)

The heat affecting Texas and much of the country is not just uncomfortable. It can be downright unhealthy

Houston is a hotspot for ozone, a smog-like substance that can cause respiratory problems, such as difficulty breathing and lung infections. Ozone is created when heat and sunlight combine with pollution emitted from cars and refineries, both of which the Houston area has in abundance.

According to the American Lung Association, Houston is the ninth-most polluted city when it comes to ozone. As of Sunday, Houston has experienced 18 days in which ozone levels were considered unhealthy, very unhealthy or hazardous, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. That’s compared to 30 days in 2022.

To avoid heat-related illness, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke, experts advise people to drink more water than normal; conduct outdoor work or exercise in the early morning or evening hours when temperatures are not as high; wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing; wear wide-brimmed hats and apply sunscreen; seek out air-conditioned buildings and take frequent cool baths or showers if your home is not air-conditioned.

Republish our articles for free, online or in print.

Monroe Trombly is a public safety reporter at the Houston Landing. Monroe comes to Texas from Ohio. He most recently worked at the Columbus Dispatch, where he covered breaking and trending news. Before...