Mid-summer-like temperatures are expected to bake Texas on Wednesday and Thursday, hitting hardest in the western part of the state which remains in the grips of its worst drought in decades.
"This sends a moment of horror through our minds to think about the summer we had last year, and we're hoping this isn't a repeat," said Scott Lawrimore, a meteorologist at The Weather Channel.
Several places in western Texas, from Abilene to El Paso, may tie records for the date on Wednesday or Thursday, he said.
In the Texas Panhandle, temperatures in Amarillo may reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.7 Celsius) in April for the first time since 1892, he said. San Angelo is expected tomorrow to break its heat record for April 26 by 9 degrees F.
Lawrimore says Texas is feeling the effects from a "June-like patch of high pressure," which set a series of record-high temperatures across Arizona and New Mexico earlier this week.
Hot weather this early in the year does not necessarily mean a repeat of last year's searing summer-long heat wave, he said. That wave resulted in the hottest three summer months ever experienced by any state since record-keeping began in the 19th century, according to the National Weather Service.
"Climate models show we are actually going to have some cooler-than-average temperatures across the South and the Gulf Coast," Lawrimore said. "But it won't feel like that for the next several days."
Even though the eastern half of Texas has received rain during the last few months - many spots are out of the drought that caused more than $7 billion in damage to Texas agriculture last year - the drought's grip has not lessened on West Texas.
The U.S. Drought Monitor shows much of the high plains and far west Texas still in exceptional drought, the most severe category. As the spring has progressed, cities including San Antonio, which had lifted water use restrictions earlier this year, re-imposed restrictions as the rains began to dry up and the weather grew warmer.
Lawrimore said the Lone Star State heat wave should end by Friday or Saturday, with rain in several areas. It will be far from enough rain to douse the drought, which is threatening to derail the West Texas cotton and wheat crops, and stress cattle herds, for the second straight year.
"For these parts of the state, 2012 still looks a lot like 2011," said Gene Hall, a spokesman for the Texas Farm Bureau. "Little grass for livestock, selling off herds for a second straight year, and grim planting prospects."