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Texas Heat Even Warps Railroad Tracks

For a month now, temperatures in Dallas have hit triple digits - every day.

The rest of the Lone Star State is also withering under the intense summer sun.

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Many financial experts in the state say the drought won't strangle the Texas economy, any time soon. "The sky is not falling," says Bernard Weinstein, of the Center for Economic Development at the University of North Texas in Denton. "Unless it lasts for several years, it won't have a significant impact."

But that is of little consolation to Texans, who find the heat is impacting their lives in ways ranging from the substantial to the mundane.

For example:

* Union Pacific railroad officials are keeping a close eye on tracks across the state after a pair of freight train derailments Aug. 1. Several "sun kinks," long warped stretches of track, caused the accidents in the Dallas area. When rails expand, they move out of alignment.

Union Pacific says trains across the state will run slower until the temperatures drop, which should prevent further derailments.

* In much of the state, when public-school students return to their classes next week, they'll find school buses equipped with cases of bottled water.

* The imported South American fire ant, universally disliked across Central and South Texas, is not leaving the mound because it's too hot. This is good news for Texans who aren't particularly fond of the creatures, but it's bad news for the scientists who are trying to eradicate them. Because the fire ants won't venture above ground, the Brazilian ant-killing flies being used to destroy the fire ants cannot breed, because they lay their eggs inside the bodies of the ants.

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* The CBS television show "Walker, Texas Ranger" - is moving north to Utah.

The series starring Chuck Norris is based in the Dallas area, but will shoot several episodes this month in Park City, Utah, to escape the challenge of shooting in 100-degree the heat. Producers say 85 percent of the show is shot outside.

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