The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

July 28, 2009

OK, That’s Hot Enough, Thank You Very Much. (Updated)

Filed under: Random Stuff, weather — Brian Lutz @ 6:53 pm

In spite of its rainy reputation, Seattle has always had a fairly temperate climate.  To this point (at least at the time of this writing,) there has never been a recorded temperature in Seattle over 100 degrees, nor had there ever been a recorded temperature below zero degrees.  The next couple of days promise to threaten that record, as the current forecast for Wednesday is quite suggesting the possibility of a temperature as high as 103, and predicting temperatures well into the Nineties for pretty much the rest of the week before finally cooling down to vaguely reasonable levels sometime early next week.

Naturally, just as the whole Seattle area turns into one ice-encrusted mess the second anything resembling snow shows up, people around here seem ill-equipped to deal with a heat wave of this magnitude.  A run on fans and air conditioners (presumably by the same people who wait for a snowstorm to arrive before thinking about the potential need for a snow shovel) has cleaned out every store in the area, and this morning I heard a report of 100 people camped out in front of Costco for a shipment of 60 air conditioners.  I suppose it’s either that, or they were just waiting to get in so they could go hang out in the big walk-in fridge for a while.  On a hot day like this, that actually starts to sound like it’s not such a bad idea.

Fortunately my apartment is on a ground floor with relatively low exposure to direct sun and large slabs of concrete under it, so it doesn’t get quite as hot as some places might.  Unfortunately, when it manages to stay this hot for this long, all that doesn’t matter too much, as the place is still going to end up uncomfortably warm.  Checking in what is probably just about the most unscientific way possible (an instant-read thermometer intended for kitchen use) showed a late-evening temperature of roughly 79.5 degrees in my apartment, with an ambient outside temperature in roughly the same range.  Not unbearably hot, but definitely heading in that direction.  Fortunately, the evening temperature made for great conditions to head out for a late-evening drive with the windows and sunroof on my car wide open, and Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here album (which seemed oddly appropriate for the circumstances) on the stereo.  Even with the temperatures still being in the upper 70s to lower 80s, the stiff breeze generated by driving at highway speed still proved refreshing.

That still leaves the question of what I’m supposed to do with the next few days.  Here at work the air conditioning seems to be holding out for the time being, although I understand other buildings on campus have experienced AC failures, including some server rooms.  On a good day an AC failure in a server room is bad news, but with heat like this, an AC failure is pretty much a “shut everything down and hope nothing melted before you got it off” level crisis.  Having worked in some test labs full of computers, they’re not a fun place to be when the AC goes off. 

Come to think of it, when it’s this hot outside, just about anywhere is not a fun place to be when the AC goes off (or doesn’t happen to exist in the first place.)  In the meantime, Stay cool out there, or at least try to melt in a location that’s easy to clean up, OK?

Update:  To give you some idea of just how rare this kind of heat is around here, this is what today’s extended forecast (as reported over at KOMO’s website) looks like for the next few days:

As you can see, that 101 showing for tomorrow’s expected high doesn’t exactly fit on there.  Apparently whoever it was at KOMO that designed the page figured that they’d never need to put three-digit temperatures on there.  Of course, given the fact that there’s never been a recorded temperature in Seattle over 100, I can’t exactly blame them for that one.  I’d hate to think what a 104 (which some of the forecasting models suggest is well within the realm of possibility tomorrow) or even a 106 would look like on that template though…  Let’s hope we never have to find out.

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