WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

Our Chance to Swelter...

Posted July 24, 2005

Well, as hot as it routinely gets over here, it looks as if you all are steaming along pretty badly also based on Mike Maze's last note. Given the humidity that usually goes with those 90+ readings at home, I know it's not much more comfortable, if any, than the 115-120 degree temperatures we've had here for most of the last two weeks.

I say "most" there because as I mentioned was possible in my last update, we've had something of a break from the typical summer Shamal pattern across the region this week, and the weakened northwesterly flow has allowed the development and inland migration of a seabreeze front off the Persian Gulf on a couple of occasions. Most notably, on Monday afternoon we had reached a temperature of 117 degrees at 2 pm, with a dew point of 52. That's already a little humid for us as our typical dew points in the Shamal pattern run between about 30 and 40 F. However, by three PM a solid southeasterly (onshore) wind had set in, the temperature had fallen to 106 degrees, and the dew point shot up to 68. As a reminder, dew points in the 50s or below are considered comfortable, 60s are somewhat humid, and above 70 is usually considered pretty oppressive. We almost never reach 80 for a dew point in North Carolina, with a few rare exceptions, mainly near the coast. By 5 pm, the temperature had fallen to an even 100 degrees, but the dew point was 79, for a "heat index" of 119. I'll have to say that evening I got more moaning and groaning about the weather from those around me than I had from the worst of our dust storms since I arrived!

But, it got worse. The next morning, our temperature/dew point combination was 88/82, and I had to instantly remove my glasses so I could see to walk to work. There were also puddles and rivulets everywhere from the air conditioning units, something that was notably absent until now, although it's something we're accustomed to back home. At that same hour, the observation from Kuwait International Airport, not far north of us, was 91/90! All I can say is uggghhh. We hit our peak of discomfort here around lunchtime, as our temperature topped out at "only" 106, but with a dew point of 84, for a heat index of 132. Walking out of an air conditioned building, water instantly condensed on your skin and clothing, combining with the dust in the air to create a thin, slippery mudlike coating. In addition, of course, condensation of water vapor releases latent heat, causing you to feel even hotter (the opposite of the cooling power of sweat when it evaporates). Walking to lunch was enough to make you wilt, and I can only imagine the kind of day the folks around here who work outdoors must have had. Conditions became much more comfortable the next day, when a slightly strengthened northwest flow balanced out the seabreeze enough to keep the most humid air pinned to the immediate coast and therefore a little east of us.

For pictures this week, I was inspired by some folks back home who had suggested that a nice way to mentally beat the heat here was to imagine all the sand was just a beach, and the gusty winds were just a stiff ocean breeze. As you can see, we do indeed have what appears to be a "beach volleyball" area over near the main PX, but unlike most coastal areas, a stroll around the base also reveals...


"Beach" soccer, and...


"Beach" softball!


Finally, with so many military personnel from all services working around me in the Combat Operations Intelligence Center (COIC) and in the chain of command that passes through here, this kind of thing is probably inevitable, but I have to pass along that whether it be in person, on the phone, or in briefings, during the past week I've encountered a Captain Cook, a Colonel Sanders, and - a General Custer!

Keep Cool...

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