Tuesday, 03 July, 2001
Phoenix is hot. When my flight arrived at 6:30 this morning the temperature was 85 degrees. Yesterday's high was 116. The highest temperature I heard reported today was 114. Bullhead City (south of Las Vegas on the Colorado River) got to 121. People will say "It's a dry heat," as if that makes it somehow cooler.
I'm familiar with the Heat Index, and will accept that it accurately represents the effects of combined heat and humidity on the human body. But in my experience it doesn't reflect the subjective feeling of heat. For example, according to the Heat Index Calculator, a temperature of 90 degrees at 75 percent humidity (a typical Austin day during the month of May) gives a heat index of 109. This is somehow equivalent to a temperature of 114 degrees at 10 percent humidity? Maybe. 114 certainly feels hotter, and by a lot more than just 24 degrees. Heat differences are not linear. To me, the difference between 90 and 114 is a helluva lot more than the difference between 66 and 90. At 66 degrees I'm comfortable outside without a shirt, and 90 is just starting to get warm. But 114? Cripes! Whose idea was it to build a city in this frying pan?
Other than the summer heat, I love the Phoenix area. Sparse as it is--especially compared to the lushness of the Texas Hill Country--the desert is a place of beauty. I'd forgotten what it's like to see for miles, and be surrounded by mountains on all sides. Even in the middle of the city you can find patches of desert, which fairly explodes with color in the spring. Wildlife isn't as abundant as in Austin, but its scarcity makes you appreciate it all the more. If Debra and I ever decide to leave the Austin area, we'll give some serious thought to moving back to Phoenix.