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A heat wave is hitting the South, from a tornado in West Texas to Florida beaches

By: Johnn Jin

Communities from Houston to New Orleans opened cooling centers to bring relief as steamy hot temperatures settled across a broad swath of the U.S. South on Saturday. The Perryton Ochiltree Chamber of Commerce said it would open a cooling center in the town of 8,000 people, about 115 miles northeast of Amarillo, to counteract the effects of the high temperatures that followed the storm.

This followed a tornado on Thursday that killed three people and left over 1,000 without electricity. Texas governor Greg Abbott said he was surprised to see how much the town was destroyed. Healthcare providers helped treat 160 injured people.

W. Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, warned that the severe weather that was forecast for the area late Saturday may cause more tornadoes. On Saturday there were heat warnings in Houston of 115-120 degrees. In places like in Brownsville, some residents have no electricity to cool their homes and must go to cooling areas.

“What's really going on is the humidity," said Allison Prater, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Fort Worth, Texas. "That's making the heat index, or the 'feels like' temperature, really skyrocket." She said the weather in Dallas could get up to 94°F, but humidity would make it feel like 105°F. The main reason it’s so humid is because the air is pulling moisture from The Gulf of Mexico.

In Louisiana, it can get up to 94°F, but with high humidity it can feel like 112°F. New Orleans opened cooling and hydration stations and advised people to drink lots of water and take breaks.

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