Wichita Falls has become the first Texas city to have 100 days of triple-digit temperatures in one year, the same day the Dallas-Fort Worth area joined the state's long list of cities with a record number of 100-degree days in 2011.
Not far from Oklahoma state line in North Texas and home to the Hotter 'N Hell Hundred bike race every summer, Wichita Falls had already broken its one-year record for 100-degree days weeks ago by Tuesday. The previous mark of 79 came in 1980, which was the benchmark for Texas heat waves before this year.
"When you consider the previous record was 79 and that was considered the monster of all summers, to exceed that by ... (25 percent) is pretty astounding," Victor Murphy of the National Weather Service said.
Dallas-Fort Worth also broke a 1980 mark with its 70th triple-digit day of the year Tuesday, becoming the 15th market among 19 around Texas to set a record, according to weather service figures. Several Texas cities have nearly doubled records dating back as far as 1934, and College Station edged past a 94-year-old mark this year.
Wichita Falls was among eight Texas cities that broke their records for consecutive days of triple-digit temperatures. That list was highlighted by Tyler at 46 straight days, more than twice the 1998 record of 20. Tyler had its 79th 100-degree day of the year Tuesday. The East Texas city's previous record was 47.
The Dallas-Fort Worth record comes a week after Texas officially recorded the hottest June-August period on record in the U.S., one more reason Murphy thinks the state has a new standard by which to judge any summer.
"You look at all that collectively, and absolutely it surpasses 1980, which is hard to fathom for anyone who was around then," Murphy said.
The heat, combined with extreme drought, has come with a hefty price in north Texas and around the state.
At least 46 deaths have been blamed on the heat in north Texas, including 17 in Dallas County, according to officials with weather service and the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office.
Devastating wildfires -- spawned by high temperatures, wind and dry conditions -- have raged across much of the state, charring more than 3.6 million acres, destroying thousands of homes and resulting in multiple deaths since November.
But in a sign some relief may be on the way, a cold front was expected to move into North Texas overnight on Wednesday, dropping high temperatures into the 80s on Thursday. No rain was expected.