07 July 2012

In the weekend heat

Sometimes it's easy to take the weather personally.  Yesterday, DC set its record for consecutive days 95 F or above (35 C), with 9, and will likely obliterate it by going to 11 straight days, adding in today and tomorrow.  The record it breaks, 8, was first set in 1987 -- the first summer I was here.  It was tied twice more, first in 1993 -- my third summer.  At the time, the summer of 1987 set many of the all-time records for sustained heat.  Probably several of the summers since then would have as well, if 1987 hadn't beat them to the punch.  Rephrase: many of the past 25 years would have set sustained heat records if compared only to the observations from 1880-1980.  What used to be unheard of is now 'normal', or at least common.  I'll be pulling down the data once NCDC is working again.

In the midst of the heat, well, we're hot here, and thunderstorms, I'll remind folks of the fact that you shouldn't run in thunderstorms.  That also applies to biking and walking and other outdoor activities.  If it's only heat you're dealing with, remember to drink enough fluids.  And, one trick for keeping cool while exercising is to dump some cool/cold water on your head.  Preferably to get a hat wet (it soaks up more water than my ever-thinning hair).  For more extreme cases, some ice cubes under your hat.

While my power came back after about 20 hours, friends didn't regain it until Tuesday (~90 hours) or Thursday (~140 hours).  Again, this is for wealthy, and densely populated, areas of a wealthy country.  West Virginia has not been faring as 'well'.  See this also.  Noticed in passing (unfortunately I don't remember exact source, quite possibly a Capital Weather Gang tweet*)  was that US average was 214 minutes of power failure per year.  Unfortunately, even the better parts of this area are likely far in excess of that.  Certainly my 20 hours this time are not balanced off with 6 previous years of 0.  In other wealthy countries, it's order 20 minutes per year.  In other words, US average is 10 times worse than other countries, and the Capitol area is closer to 100 times.  This is not the first time we've lost power this year, and won't be the last.

* My apologies to the original source if it wasn't this.  In any case, Capital Weather Gang is well worth reading, and has a blog as well.

At the same time as we were obliterating our record for sustained extreme heat, a friend bragged that Phoenix, Arizona, had its coldest 4th of July in 100 years -- 76 F (25 C).  We were 20 F hotter.  A different friend commented that he'd escaped the DC heat by going to the Bahamas.  Summer in the Caribbean to escape the heat ...


EliRabett said...

It's not the lightening (actually it's not just the lightening), it's the falling trees and other stuff.

Eli had a friend who was killed by a falling tree when in his car during a thunderstorm. You may think you can dodge, but you cannot.

Same Ordinary Fool said...

It was the coolest July 4th in 100 years. But cool is relative in Phoenix. On July 4, 1912 the record-lowest high was 90 degrees F.
On July 4, 2012 the 91 degree high temperature ocurred in the wee hours of the morning. By afternoon the temperature was in the 70's. The low was 74degrees.
The normal range is 107deg/83deg.

Robert Grumbine said...

s.o.f: Ah, that makes a bit more sense. My friend was probably just referring to the temperature at the time of the fireworks or some such.