Mr. Gates’ mail route spanned 400 homes and eight miles, said his wife, Carla Gates. On Tuesday morning, he had left early, as usual, and filled a cooler with ice water. A couple of hours after sunrise, he texted his wife to tell her it was already 88 degrees outside, she said.
“If you go out, be careful,” he wrote. It was her last message to her.
The early summer heat has been brutal even in places where residents are used to hot summers. At Main Street Mowing in the northern suburbs of Dallas, business always picks up when temperatures reach triple digits, said Tanner Maxson, owner of the business. This year, however, the calls will arrive at the end of June, not July or August.
“People are throwing in the towel,” Maxson said. “The phone has been ringing off the hook.”
Temperatures in the Dallas area were expected to reach 103 degrees Monday, with a heat index hovering around 110. By Wednesday, the National Weather Service expects temperatures to reach 107 degrees.
While linking a single heat wave to climate change requires analysis, scientists have no doubt that heat waves around the world are getting hotter, more frequent, and longer lasting. The 2018 National Climate Assessment, a major scientific report from 13 federal agencies, noted that the frequency of heat waves in the United States jumped from an average of two per year in the 1960s to six per year in the 2010s.
In Austin, temperatures were also expected to reach around 103 on Monday. “No one can survive this,” said Paula Knight, 34, who runs a small business advisory group and tried, only briefly, to work at an outdoor table at a coffee shop Monday afternoon.
Still, some residents said they were used to the blistering heat. Walking Monday morning in North Austin, Petr Obrda, 79, said: “This is summer in Texas.”
david montgomery contributed reporting from Austin. John Keefe also contributed.