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Thursday, January 7, 2010

I dislike equivalent temperatures

It's interesting that I ran across this article today, a curmudgeonly treatise on the relative lack of merit in the equivalent temperature term, wind chill. Although it was a balmy 61 degrees earlier, the wind did make it feel cooler. But lest you think I'm one of those southern alarmists, it will be in the mid-twenties later this evening. I don't care who you are, a negative 40-degree shift in temperature will get your attention.

Personally though, being a Florida resident, I tend to wax Archie Bunkerish on wind chill's - ahem - polar opposite: heat index.

I first noticed the trend toward calamitous weather reporting before hurricane Ivan, circa 2004. If you ask anyone in Florida, the best indicator of whether an approaching tropical storm or hurricane will hit your area is if Jim Cantore is in town.

Have you seen this man?

When Jim is in town, I'm evacuating.

Back to equivalent temperatures. If you read the Slate article, you will be filled with amazing information on the origins of temperature equivalents and the Antarctic adventures of the scientists who developed formulas - that's right, formulas - to determine how much colder it feels when the wind is blowing. Who knew math could find an answer for everything?

The only reason I even read the article is because it's been inhumanely cold in Florida, and will continue to be so through at least the middle of next week. I know, you're thinking inhumanely cold means it's below 60 to us thin-blooded denizens of the Sunshine State.

Au contraire, mes amis. It will be in the teens this weekend, barely breaking above freezing during the day.

And I bet that wind chill is going to be a (polar) bear.

If anyone still thinks I'm just a wuss, come on down here in August and we'll kick back outside and discuss the relative merits of the day's heat index - sure to be above 110 degrees - while you gargle down a gallon of Gatorade and search frantically for your Foreign Legion hat.


My wife, bless her heart, is tired of hearing me bark at the local prognosticators when they break out with, "Sally, it's going to feel like a hundred and fifteen out there today - stay indoors and drink plenty of fluids. And don't forget your sunscreen!"

For Pete's sake - whoever Pete is - they don't even put the actual temperatures on the weather maps anymore - they just put the heat index numbers.

Just like everything else, the weather channel and the various news outlets are gussying up the weather to impress the masses and reel in more advertising dollars with their dynamic meteorological derring-do.

I'm of the same mind as Mr. Engber, the author of the aforementioned Slate article - just give me the temperatures folks - I can figure out whether it's going to be hot or cold.

Let me know how you feel about temperature equivalents!


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