Opinion

Weathering the recent heat wave no sweat

Wally’s World

A couple of weeks ago, we passed through five or six days with temperatures in excess of 90 degrees, a heat wave that shattered records all across the Puget Sound region and produced a fire-sale run on air-conditioners. It peaked at 103 degrees in downtown Seattle, which was not only a record for that particular day, but the highest temp ever recorded in the Emerald City.

Some of my friends are quick to contribute such records to global warming, claiming this is a harbinger of things to come. Could be, I suppose. If we get the dry winter that is being predicting, it may have dire consequence for our critical snowpack and the Vancouver Olympics.

This “prolonged” stretch of heat – prolonged by local standards, but not particularly lengthy in other parts of the United States – left many middle-aged and elderly people rather depressed, grumpy and/or lethargic. But not the younger set. They welcomed such conditions and headed for Flaming Geyser State Park, the boys wearing colorful swimsuits that covered everything from their bellies to their knees and the girls strutting proudly about in dental-floss bikinis. There, sitting in huge inner-tubes with their legs intertwined around each other and a six-pack, they drifted down the river. Given an early start, the proper floatation device, enough sunscreen and perhaps some water to supplement the beer, I suppose you could float down to the Duwamish waterway in Seattle. (Well, perhaps not quite that far.)

As noted above, other parts of the country enjoy a month or two of temperatures in the 90s every summer. This is especially true in the Deep South, from Texas through North Carolina. In new Orleans, the temps rarely drop below 90 degrees from June through September and highs near 100 degrees or more are commonplace. With a humidity index to match the temperature, things get a bit uncomfortable for visitors, but if you live there any length of time you quickly adjust and don’t even notice the mugginess. Texas, on the other hand, has a dry heat and 100 degrees feels about the same as 80 degrees here. (Unfortunately, many Texas rivers and wells are drying up, turning much of the southern part of the state into a desert.)

In general, heat doesn’t bother me, but there are exceptions. I recall one day in Phoenix, during the summer of 1972, when the mercury soared to 118 degrees and there wasn’t any breeze whatsoever. A metaphoric wool blanket had been thrown over the entire city, trapping all the vehicle exhaust and creating a bubble of pollution so thick you could actually taste and see this corrosive, gray fog. Metal was so hot you could get a third degree burn simply opening your car door. Friends, I couldn’t get out of that hell-hole fast enough. I haven’t been back since.

So, I have few, if any, complaints about our local weather. However, I did notice, during our brief brush with heat, that my funny, little house go a bit stuffy around 9:30 or 10 each evening. But this really wasn’t a serious problem. I just drove downtown to an air-conditioned lounge and enjoyed a gin and tonic. (As though I need an excuse to do that.)

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