Area residents enjoy the water at Chalk Ridge Falls

Herald/SARAH MOORE KUSCHELL - Amber Wenzel, 10, floats in a pool of water while her family members, in the back group, use a board to dump water on people near the upper falls at Chalk Ridge Falls Park on Sunday. Area temperatures have been running about five degrees warmer than usual for this time of year, said meteorologist Steve Fano with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth. Expect the trend to continue through most of this week.

April Compean of Belton was just tying to stay cool Sunday as she watched her family and others play in the Lampasas River at Chalk Ridge Falls Park.

"The water stings when you first get in it, but in the end it is all relaxing, because the water is so cold," Compean said from her seat under the trees along the banks of the river while her three children and husband splashed and swam in an area around a small dam.

Central Texas has been seeing warmer than normal temperatures for the last couple of weeks, and it is unclear how much hotter it is going to get, prompting residents to step up efforts to stay cool earlier than they usually would.

The temperature has been running about five degrees higher than normal this time of year in the Temple-Killeen area, said Steve Fano, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.

"The temperatures we are having right now is close to what we should be seeing a month from now," Fano said.

Compean agreed that the weather has been hot. For the last couple of weeks, her family has been in enjoying the river that runs through Chalk Ridge Falls next to Stillhouse Hollow Dam to stay cool.

Since about May 18, the Bell County area has seen highs in the mid-90s and lows in the mid- to high 70s, Fano said. The lows typically occur right before sunrise. The normal temperatures during that portion of May are typically in the mid 80s, he said.

The humidity has also been adding to the heat, Fano said.

"It looks fairly dry, humid, but rain-free," he said.

The heat has not been record-setting, because Bell County has seen temperatures that reached into high 90s and even the 100s at end of May and into June, Fano said.

"We haven't seen any triple digits in Bell County at this time of year, so that is good news," Fano said.

The warmer weather is also not a good predictor of how hot the summer months will get, but a lack of rain could be, he said.

"If we don't get any rain in the beginning of June, then that will be a good indicator how hot it will get in July and August," Fano said.

Some of the hottest periods Texas gets is during droughts, because the vegetation is not prominent enough to soak up the sun's energy and spread the moisture through the air, Fano said.

With the temperatures rising, people should be more cautious outside, Fano said. The hottest part of the day is mid-day to the afternoon. If someone has to do outdoor activities, they should attempt to do them in the morning, and stay inside during the hottest part of the day, Fano said.

If people must go outside, they should wear light-colored, loose clothing and drink plenty of water, Fano said. Staying away from alcohol and carbonated beverages helps, too.

Several of the families in Chalk Ridge Park lean their backs up against some falls to feel the cold water rush over them just downstream from the Compean family spot.

"It is not so hot in the shade, and when you get wet, it cools you down," said Sergio Chamorro of Belton, who was also enjoying the riverside.

Contact Mason W. Canales at mcanales@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7554.

Contact Mason W. Canales at mcanales@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7474

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