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June 19, 2014

MAY: Hey there, hot stuff

— Temperatures this week have crept into the 90s. Summer is here — and the wonders of the hot Ohio Valley are settling in to take up residence for the next 90 days. It seemed appropriate for us to take a couple of weeks to talk about some hot things in the tri-state area.

It goes without saying that the climate in Southern Indiana is warm in the summer. Our hottest month is July, when the average high sits at 88.7. The average temperature between the highs and the lows in July is 79.3 degrees.

It isn’t unusual for the temperatures to cross into the three digit mark. Temperature records have been kept since 1872, and the warmest has been 107 degrees. We have reached that mark on three different occasions.

All three were found in the month of July, in the years 1901, 1930 and 1936. Our last really hot summer was in 2012, when several days topped 100, with 106 on July 7 and 105 on June 29.

A local radio talk show host was ranting about the difference between the dry heat in Arizona and the humid heat of Louisville. Does it really feel like 105 when the temperature is 93 with a high humidity?

According to the NOAA weather website, a 100 degree temperature with 10 percent humidity would give a heat index — meaning it would feel like — 93 degrees. On the other hand, if it is 90 degrees out and the humidity is 90 percent, it will feel like 122 degrees.

They say it isn’t the heat but the humidity.

Let’s take two real-life situations from this week. In a small town in Southern California, the heat index was 98 degrees. That feeling was produced by a temperature of 105, a dew point of 27 and the humidity of 6 percent. Meanwhile, in Virginia the same heat index of 98 degrees was found in a bay town. The temperature there was 84 with humidity of 91 percent and a dew point of 81 degrees.

Did they feel the same? In California it was a dry, arid 98 degrees. In Virginia, it was 98 but the air was, as my grandmother would have said, “so thick you could cut it with a knife.”

Which would you rather endure?

Famed late night talk show host Johnny Carson would delight the audiences by saying it was really hot that day in Los Angeles. The audience would shout back, “How hot was it?” Johnny would then quip back an analogy that often played on words and left the crowd rolling with laughter.

Some of his classic responses included “It was so hot … the cows were giving evaporated milk; the chickens were laying fried eggs; and I saw a robin using a potholder to pull a worm out of the ground.”

I suppose we couldn’t end this column about hot things without at least mentioning something about global warming. Regardless of your interpretation of the data concerning global warming, it is always fun to read some of the remarkable things that Al Gore has had to say.

To a group of college students, the former Vice President said, “Global warming is an absolute average higher temperature year round. One of the biggest consequences of global warming is weather extremes — more droughts, more storms and more cold.”

Personally, I enjoy the hot weather much more than the days of the cold winter. I am glad it is finally hot enough to complain about how hot it is. And I promise I won’t complain.

— Tom May is the Minister of Discipleship at Eastside Christian Church in Jeffersonville. He is an adjunct instructor in the Communications Department at Indiana University Southeast. Reach him at tgmay001@gmail.com

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