Just some hot weather? WRONG! During a heat wave, the sun is conspiring with the earth’s atmosphere to kill you dead. But how?
Let’s make some definitions first. While a week of hot days might seem like a heat wave, a weather system doesn’t officially take on “heat wave” status (alternately “heatwave,” “hot-wave,” or “hot-spell”) unless temperatures are outside historical averages for the area. In other words, a week of 100°F temperatures might be considered a heat wave in Maine, but in Nevada, it’s the norm!
These abnormally high temperatures can last a few days (e.g. a super sultry weekend) or longer… making you sweat for weeks at a time.
Now, onto the sun & atmosphere’s conspiracy against humanity, as promised. Heat waves are generally caused by high pressure weather systems that force air downward. The pressure keeps air from circulating as it normally would, trapping hot air and creating an “oven” effect in the immediate area. Temperatures rise as the sun continues to warm the trapped air, until the pressure system relents, allowing cooler air to circulate.
The next time you’re trying to sleep during a heat wave, sweating through the night, take the opportunity to pretend you’re a happy little cookie baking in a cosmic convection oven… but only if the oven isn’t hot enough to threaten your life. Be smart about pretend play. Play safe to stay safe.
Now that we know the causes, let’s explore the effects.