Monday, August 16, 2010

It Was So Hot...How Hot Was It?

It was so hot...people ran out of superlatives.

So, we caved and turned on the house air-conditioner in the wee morning hours of June 23rd. For the next few weeks it ran sporadically until July 13th.

The air-conditioner switch stayed in the "on" position from July 13th until this morning.

Why? Because a massive heat wave started on July 14th and this has been the hottest summer here in at least the past decade. Ugh.

Since July 13th we've had 25 days with the heat index at or above 100 degrees.

Seven of the last 14 days have had temperatures at 103 degrees or higher. That's just the temperature - not the heat index.

This year July had 17 days with highs above the average.

So far in August all but one day has had above average highs.

But how does the summer rank historically?

According to NOAA, 1943 (our template year for rationing) is ranked as the 15th hottest summer on record in these parts. In comparison, 2006 (which had been the hottest year in the past decade or so) is ranked as the 21st hottest year on record.

Considering we're blowing the 2006 figures out of the water, I'd say we've ended up with a fairly historically accurate summer.

So we've been running the air-conditioner in the house (set between 78 and 80 degrees), instead of taking in the daily showings at the local "air-chilled" theater, instead of spending copious amounts of time at the public swimming pools or bathing in ice water (all 1940s examples). But in the 1940s life would sort of stop during this kind of summer heat. We didn't have that luxury.

Don't loose complete faith in us - we've only run the air-conditioning in the vehicles on a few long road trips where having the windows down would actually decrease energy efficiency. Otherwise, I know of one time that TMOTH used the air-conditioning in the car and I used it once last week when it is was so hot I was actually having trouble concentrating on the road (the van thermostat registered an outside temperature of 112 degrees - I felt justified).

And my job is only semi-air-conditioned, a little of both worlds just to keep my body confused. Poor TMOTH suffers three times a week when he goes to work in an un-air-conditioned warehouse.

Yards and gardens around town are crispy and dry, due to a combination of ridiculously high temperatures and very little rain. But they're not a total loss - we're still bringing in enough tomatoes to warrant canning before they rot.

But a cold front moved in yesterday and the air is absolutely delicious. We'll use these next few weeks to repair any damage to lawns, gardens and psyches that occurred over the last month.

That is, if any of us can stop smiling at the change in weather.

--Rational Mama

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