Summer has arrived in Harper’s Valley; and arrived with a vengeance! Yesterday’s high temperature was 110* F; that’s 43* C for ‘thems that roll metric’. Today’s high is predicted to be 112*F. The 10-day forecast advises daytime high temperatures will average around 106*F.
One of the statistics tracked by the local weather folk is the number of consecutive days over 100*F. Today is only Day 4 of the current streak. It could have been Day 8 but the official high on Monday was only 99*F. I think I recall taking a sweater that day. I guess there is no end in sight for the forecast-able future.
The beginning of the 100*+ days is the harbinger of two weather-related conditions. One is very good; the other, not so much. Consecutive days of this kind of heat reduce the tree pollen activity to almost zero which heralds the end of the allergy season. Hooray!! There will be rejoicing throughout the land. Unfortunately, the heat also foreshadows the coming of the monsoon season. Booo!! According to the National Weather Service, the Southwest Monsoon begins June 15.
Folks who don’t live here are fond of saying; “but it’s a dry heat”. Whenever I hear that the thought bubble over my head reads; “Yes. So’s a pizza oven”. Emotional reaction notwithstanding, there is truth in the old saying; “It’s not the heat; it’s the humidity.” Harper’s Valley is in the Sonoran Desert and, as in all deserts, the air is dry. People just seem to think that means more than it actually does.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration publishes a Heat Index chart which attempts to quantify the effect of humidity on the body’s perception of temperature. As a former Midwesterner, I remember the god-awful experience of 90*F temps with 80% humidity. Ugh!. The chart says that feels like 113*F. That’s what today will feel like here. It will feel that way tomorrow too; and the next day, and the day after that, and….. And looming on the horizon is the arrival of the monsoon. The relative humidity during the monsoon still typically stays below 50%. That doesn’t sound too bad. One could still even make the case for still calling it a ‘dry heat’ compared to the folks who live in the lake country. And then our temp of 112*F will feels like 125*F. I’ll leave the sweater at home those days…actually I will stay home too.
I prefer a more qualitative approach the climate experience. It is summer. Anything over 105*F is “bloody hot”. We won’t see our neighbors again until Labor Day. People will only be seen on the streets before 6:00 AM and after 9:00 PM. All the restaurants and pubs are more crowded because no one wants an outside table.
All Harper knows is she can’t walk on the sidewalk during the day because the pavement will burn her paws and her dads refuse to make her wear boots. It’s just easier to walk her before dawn and after dark. She doesn’t mind. The neighborhood bunnies are more active then anyway.