The Weather Service is expecting a number of record highs and overnight warm minimum temperatures are likely. Heat indices will surge past 100 degrees and approach the 110s.
For cattle country, and the 12-state feeder cattle region, these high temperatures and heat indices can be a real problem and potentially be deadly. The above maps show the heat index forecast for Saturday and Sunday along with counties that have greater than 50 thousand head of cattle and calves. Saturday will have the largest values, with many in Texas and Oklahoma (and the Southern-Central Plains in general) seeing values north of 105-degree Fahrenheit. Sunday will be a bit more moderate with heat index values in the high 90’s.
Looking at cattle heat stress over the last five days we see Texas has seen some of the largest temperatures. The Cattle Comfort Index, developed by researchers at the University of Nebraska, show heat stress values for most of the state have been well above 95 degrees since last Sunday (July 14th). Anything 95 or above is considered Severe Heat Stress, which is the highest heat stress category for that index.
To see a breakdown of Severe Heat Stress by state for the 12-major cattle feeding states see the below chart. Approximately 6.5 million head of cattle in Texas and about 3 million head in Oklahoma have experienced average Severe Heat Stress temperatures since Sunday. Compared to Texas, Nebraska has the next largest number of cattle in Severe Heat Stress at nearly 5 million head.