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If you’re in the Seattle area, you hardly need me to tell you this, but for any readers from afar, it’s HOT! Mid 90s today, but high 90s the next three days before (maybe) dropping back into the 80s. We do typically get a few days in the 90s each year, sometimes just barely in the 90s. And then there are the less frequent years with a day or two in the high 90s. But we are now at the beginning of what may be a record heat wave.

Don’t take my word for this. Listen instead to Cliff Mass, famed local meteorologist, author of the recently published The Weather of the Pacific Northwest, and professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at UW.* At his blog today, Cliff wrote:

Amazingly, this heat wave could last into the weekend (although the temps should modify a bit on Friday into Sunday, but still in the 80s). And remember, it will be hotter in Portland and the Willamette Valley, where temperatures well into the 100s will occur.

The heat wave is made worse by the high dewpoints today. Many locations are in the sixties, some in the upper 60s and near 70F. Dewpoint is a measure of the absolute amount of moisture in the air..we are usually in the lower 50s in the summer. High dewpoints keep nighttime temperatures up–which makes a heat wave much worse.

In short, we are about to enter an historic heat wave for our region. One day, your grandchildren will ask you… did you really experience the temperatures of July 29th, 2009? What was it like? How did you survive it?

Usually, when we have a more typical heat wave with temperatures in the high 80s, the house gets more uncomfortable by the day, until by day 3 or (heaven forbid) day 4, the evenings are unbearable, except in the basement. (I should explain that given the infrequency and short duration of heat waves, most houses in greater Seattle don’t have AC.) And then the weather changes. What’s scary this time is that when I got back to the house from New York late yesterday afternoon, it was already unbearable, and this was before the start of 90 degree days. We headed to the basement to sleep. This isn’t going to be fun.

*Cliff and I are fellow Long Island Jews, growing up just a couple of villages apart, though we didn’t get to know each other until early in my dean days. I knew of him long before, thanks to his local radio appearances on Fridays to predict the weather for the weekend. His voice is what the word mellifluous was invented to describe. A mellifluous baritone. And our commonality extends beyond our backgrounds: we both fancy ourselves experts on teaching mathematics. I because I’ve done it for decades; Cliff because, well, I don’t know why. But he is on a mission to change how math is taught in the schools, and he’s fearless in his belief that he knows what needs to be done.

Categories: Weather
  1. jsofie
    July 28, 2009 at 3:31 PM

    Imagine living in a place on the 9th floor. that only has 2 windows that open and no ac. UGG! Henry and I are melting…. we nmight have to move into your basement 🙂

  2. gailirving
    July 29, 2009 at 6:34 AM

    the couch is still available….

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