Let’s start with the good news: Meteorologists predict temperatures will only surpass 100 degrees once in the next 10 days. We survived the hottest summer day thus far, which also was the hottest July 19 in the history of North Texas.

And even that could’ve been worse. In 1936, temperatures reached the 110s in Dallas-Fort Worth and a record 120 degrees near Wichita Falls.

Engineer Willis Carrier, who invented the beloved air conditioner in 1902, deserves infinite praise. (It’s not his fault that the cooling contraption may contribute to rising temperatures.)


The less-than-uplifting fact is Dallas’ lack of trees also increases the temperature outside.  Urban heat islands — such as parking lots, plazas and sidewalks — absorb heat and cause temperatures 50 to 90 degrees warmer than what’s recorded, according to Janette K. Monear, chief executive of the Texas Trees Foundation (TTF).

“When the weather forecaster says, ‘Today we will reach 108 degrees,’ that doesn’t take into consideration the radiant heat coming off the surface of the ground in the city of Dallas,” Monear wrote in a Dallas Morning News column. “On July 19 at 3 p.m., the Texas Trees Foundation recorded surface temperatures on the plaza at Dallas City Hall at 142.5 degrees and surface temperatures at Fair Park of 151 degrees.”


Hot or Not

TTF conducted a study in 2017 to determine the hottest areas of Dallas and what will happen as development increases. (In case you were wondering, the Medical District, Love Field and U.S. 75 corridor are the most sweat-inducing.)

Any area in orange signifies a heat island (Courtesy of the Texas Trees Foundation.)

Where the heck does Lake Highlands fall?

Most of Lake Highlands’ parkland surrounds its trails, according to Robert Kent, North Texas area director of the Trust for Public Land. Harry S. Moss, Flag Pole Hill, Fair Oaks and Olive Shapiro parks account for the majority of our green space.

Despite having several trails and White Rock Lake in our vicinity, City Council District 10 comprises only 3 percent of Dallas’  23,464 parkland acres. North Lake Highlands and Vickery Meadow are some of the city’s most prominent “park deserts,” Kent says.

But what Lake Highlands lacks in parkland it makes up for in mature trees, thanks to its well-established residential areas. “Lake Highlands and Lakewood are definitely up there” in terms of green space, says Matt Grubisich, TTF’s director of operations.

Heat islands are indicated in red (Courtesy of TTF.)

In other words, we are sweating less than Northwest or South Dallas, although we shouldn’t congratulate ourselves quite yet. The study also imagined what would happen if Lake Highlands lost 10 percent of its tree canopy. The impact could be dramatic, particularly near I-635, according Grubisich. “We just can’t plant enough trees is what it comes down to,” he says.

The City’s new parkland dedication and tree ordinances could help with that. So could the neighborhood tree huggers who keep an eye out for chainsaws.