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Kill Me Now!

Gun news is slow, since the media is focused on other things for the moment, like how racist America is. In the mean time, those of us in the Northeast are baking. It’s not often I’ll say I’d trade Houston for its weather, but:

Philadelphia

Houston

Today we’re getting a break on humidity. Dewpoint today is under 70, whereas it’s been 70-72 the past several days. I learned from my days being an avid hiker, before I got too busy and too fat, that dewpoint is the number to watch. A lot of people think relative humidity is the important number for comfort, but dewpoint, which tells you how much moisture is actually in the air, is a more reliable measure. Dewpoints below 60 are generally comfortable, even if it’s fairly hot out. You can go do a long hike, even in 90 degree weather, and do fine if the dewpoint is below 60. From 60-65 you can generally manage, but pushing closer to 65 you’ll start to feel the suck. At 65-70, it’s generally pretty uncomfortable. Anything above 70 is unbearable even if the temperature is not that high. You’ll be dripping with sweat with even minor exertion. I’ll take 105 in Phoenix over this crap any day of the week. Dry heat is much easier to deal with. On days like today, I just try to stay indoors and not do much that requires physical exertion, which conveniently is generally what my jobs requires.

But that’s not to say it doesn’t still suck. Few houses built here before the 1990s were built with central air conditioning. Most people who have it in older houses retrofitted it, which is expensive if you don’t have forced-air heat. My house has hot water baseboard heating and no AC, so retrofitting is more pricy. The open floor plan of the house is nice, but in summer it makes AC difficult. I’m relying on a 14,000 BTU/hr portable unit downstairs, and a 6000BTU/hr Wal-Mart special window unit upstairs. They’ve been running flat out for days without cycling. Not good. But they are keeping the house reasonably comfortable. Right now my office is 80 degrees, with a dewpoint of 63 degrees indoors. That’s pretty good. I’d call that a beautiful day if it was outside. Eventually, I’m going to get another 14,000 BTU portable unit for upstairs, which should hopefully be enough to do the whole house, and let the units cycle a bit even in craptacular heat and humidity such as this.

20 Responses to “Kill Me Now!”

  1. PT says:

    93F and 79% humidity.

    The midwest can really bake.

  2. guy says:

    In a 1800’s brick/lath/plaster house here. 88 degrees, 74 dew point. Woohoo.

    It’s really sad when summer in WI makes me long for the Arctic Circle.

    • guy says:

      On a completely unrelated note, I’d like to give a shout out to Lasko fans(particularly their Windmachine 3300’s). The only reason I haven’t spontaneously rendered my chubby butt.

  3. Stephana says:

    Don’t forget that if you oversize the AC, and the units cycle to much, the dew point rises. We were using a 5000 unit, which didn’t cycle for the living room. Replaced it with a 10,000 unit which cycles a lot, and the dewpoint is much higher, even though the temp is lower. Should have saved the coin and got the 8500 unit.

    • Sebastian says:

      Yeah, that’s definitely true… but I think at 28,000 BTU/hr, I’d still be under capacity for what the house should be. I think it would only cycle every once in a while to catch a break. Overall I think the dew point would still remain close to what it is now. Upstairs it’s only 5 degrees or so cooler than outside currently, and there’s more moisture. The upstairs is really just too much for that little 6000 BTU/hr unit… both for temp and humidity.

  4. Countertop says:

    I’ve been praying that Al Gore will show up in DC soon

  5. KevinC says:

    110° here. But it’s a dry heave.

  6. Unclezip says:

    I learned I. 5th grade science how to cool a house just by using the windows properly. Who, do you wonder, decided to phase out double hung windows and phase in air conditioning? During the night, I open the house; during the heat of the day I keep the house sealed. Inside temp stays below 80, even when 100 outside.

    • Sebastian says:

      Probably someone who lives in a climate where windows are a liability for 9 months out of the year. I can get by with that method until late June, then the humidity and heat come in together. 80 degrees when dewpoint is higher than 70 out sucks.

  7. Alien says:

    I wouldn’t be too anxious to trade PA for AZ, dry heat or no. Some years back I was in Tucson and it reached 115 F by lunchtime. 1) 115F is still real damn hot, regardless of humidity (or dew point); 2) you absolutely, positively do not want to lean against the fender of a dark rental car parked in the sun in Tuscon, with or without long pants (Robb Allen, call your office….).

    Once I was at VIR for an August race and track air temp was 122F. I guessed the pits weren’t much cooler, evidenced by the number of teams who were putting crushed ice on tools so they could handle them. Heat is heat, and at some point humidity becomes irrelevant.

  8. The Noob says:

    As a Florida native, I’m entertained by this post. Here, it’s usually 95+ degrees in the summer with 90%+ humidity. Sweat no longer works in those conditions. You just get soaked.

    I’ve said for years, however, that none of us actually live in Florida, we live in air conditioning. Looks like the same can be said for a lot of places at this point. Considering my AC is (for all intents and purposes) broken, I can honestly say I live in Florida.

    • aerodawg says:

      I feel you brother. Our AC broke last summer right in the middle of that triple digit heat wave we had here in AL. We had to snag a hotel room for 2 days while it was repaired…

  9. Andy B. says:

    For the past couple years I’ve had experiences like, mowing the lawn and feeling really, really beat, and thinking crap, now I’m really getting old. Then something reminds me that it’s over 95 degrees, and I remember that we always felt beat when we did anything physical in those temperatures. I’d like to find a tabulation of historical daily temperatures, because it seems to me sixty years ago heat waves like we’re having weren’t as frequent nor last as long as what we’ve been seeing lately. As I recall things, when it got much over 90 it was considered acceptable to hunker down and let outdoor chores go (unless you were a farmer) for a few days until the heat broke. If you were a kid you hung the garden hose over the clothesline, set the nozzle to spray, and ran through that for a half hour of so. Or, go take a dip in the farm pond. I could gauge the temperature by how often my hound dog went over to the pond for a swim during the day.

    Before the mid- ’50s, to my memory, if you wanted to experience air conditioning you had to go to a store or theater in the city. Even most stores in Bucks County didn’t have it. It was a factor you just didn’t think about. I remember one relative, who we considered pretentious and a spendthrift, who got a window air conditioner c. 1957, but myself, I never lived in a building with AC until 1970. Before that, just having a window fan to force air circulation seemed luxurious.

    I remember in our barracks in Germany, not being able to completely open the first floor windows to cool things at night, because invariably someone would pee out of an upstairs window during the night, and some phenomenon I’ve never understood would cause the stream to curve and come in the first floor window. Yep, those were the good ole days.

    • Sebastian says:

      I’ve been letting outdoor chores go for two weeks now. Though, today I had to go mow where the window unit drips, because it was more than knee high.

      I don’t remember long heat waves like this either when I was younger, and I remember the lake behind our house freezing during winter because we would go skating on it. I can’t remember the last time I saw lakes freeze enough for skating around here.

      I’m generally skeptical of climate modeling as a science, but it’s hard not to see all the signs anecdotally that things are warmer now than before.

      • Andy B. says:

        Yes, skating is another indicator! A big part of our winter activity into the 1960s was ice skating on “undeveloped” ponds, the Delaware Canal, etc., etc. Silver Lake would be illuminated at night and crowded, as would be the pond at Washington Crossing State Park. One of our favorite spots was the swampy ponds that used to be behind the private dump on Big Oak Road, because the dump would provide plenty of material for bonfires at night. Even fifty years ago, that would only last for several weeks in the dead of winter, but now lakes and ponds hardly ever freeze over enough to be safe at all. I’m not sure my kids (who are about your age) ever ice skated anywhere except at an indoor rink. A very definite change has occurred.

      • Geodkyt says:

        Four words:

        Expanding Urban Heat Sinks

        It really makes a difference and has nothing to do with global climate.

        • Sebastian says:

          Well, speaking strictly anecdotally, Philly isn’t a new urban heat sink. It existed when I was a kid and hasn’t grown any. The area I live in likewise is pretty stable, and is no more built up now than it was when I was a kid.

  10. aerodawg says:

    LOL, your roughest is a typical Summer day here in AL. Today it’s 87 degrees, 63% humidity, heat index of 94 and dew point of 73. And it’s a relatively pleasant day, in one of the mildest summers I can remember.

    Growing up I can recall working construction for my grandfather on days where the temp was triple digits and the heat index was pushing 110. Sun, shade, wind, didn’t matter, you sweltered regardless. 2 hours work in that and you looked like someone hit you with a water hose.

    I will say that there’s a special place in heaven for the guys that invented air conditioning though…

    • Andy B. says:

      That reminds me of one of the things I flash back to when I get into the “How did I ever survive it?” mode: Loading filled 55 gallon drums of chemicals into boxcars using only a hand truck and a ramp, for a week when the temperature was 95 – 100 every day. For $2.75 and hour.

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