Thursday, 5 July 2007

But it's a dry heat...

Well, I came to Northern California to live, in March 2005. Straight to Davis from chilly Nottingham, I fell in love with the lovely sunny 60°F days (that's 15°C). Compare that with 50°C/10°C maxima, following frosty March mornings, that I was used to. I was in Paradise...

Summers were another matter, however. As soon as the temperature started to climb much above 75
°F (23°C) I started to sweat a little. "Hot out", I'd say. The locals would just smile and nod and pat me on the head. "Oh, You think it's hot now...wait 'till it gets HOT." That was in April. By June I was certain that it couldn't get hotter, temperatures starting to get into the mid-80s (30-ish) and I repeated my little "...hot out..." speech. Only to get the same response.

I would sweat my way to the Food Co-op and sweat back again, laden with goodies, to an amused but not entirely sympathetic wife. "Oh, it can hit 100", she'd remind me. And I'd groan. You see, the all-time UK temperature was (still is, I think) just 101
° (a sweltering 38.5°C), and if it even approached 90°F there would be "Phew, What A Scorcher!" headlines in the papers.

Finally, however, my day came - a red letter day for me, when a Davis resident finally agreed that it was hot. It was 90-odd that day, but I was satisfied for a moment. "At least it's a dry heat...", he said, and I gritted my teeth. As I reluctantly turn on the air conditioning, I groan (and not always just inwardly) at the certainty of an inflated electricity bill and the knowledge that my cooler home interior means a hotter exterior.

Of course, I'm something of a veteran now, and I barely flinch until it hits ninety. But I still worry. You see,
Davis' typical weather is pretty bad in the summer - we managed to escape the worst excesses last year by running off to Canada the week it climbed to 110, but that won't always be the case. Each year more people drive away or jet off to avoid the gnarliest of the heat, but that must soon start to change.

What happens if climate change means that it gets hotter? Maybe not just hotter, but drier too. California grows a good deal of America's food, and farmers rely on (would you believe) water - without irrigation, there would be no agriculture. Without the runoff from the surrounding mountains, water levels in the Central Valley would fall, and sooner or later we'd have to look elsewhere for our water.

Rather like the residents of Southern California, we'd have to pump water hundreds, thousands of miles to irrigate our fields, water our lawns and golf courses, wash our cars.

Yep, that would be a dry heat.

2 comments:

oakling said...

you should node that!!

also, i did not know you had a spot of blog! i must Subscribe to your Feed.

Elle said...

Your story made me chuckle. I moved to Davis for college in 2002 and felt the same way about the heat. It was ridiculously warm for the end of September, and I couldn't sleep at night as it stayed in the nineties until midnight. I avoided summer in Davis until after I graduated, when I decided to finish out my lease and try to find a job instead of moving back home. That's when it got really hot. Triple digits more days than not. I spent most of the summer in my air-conditioned apartment, blinds shut, watching movies in my darkened living room instead of sending out resumes.

The next summer wasn't much better, but at least I worked in an air conditioned building and didn't have to venture outside until the worst of the heat was gone.

The third summer, it wasn't so bad at all. The triple digit days were still tough, but when it was in the nineties it wasn't as bad; I was finally getting used to summers in Davis. My brother-in-law came up to visit for a day; his girlfriend bought him a sky-diving excursion as a gift, and the plane took off from the Yolo County airport. My husband and I looked at each other and said "They picked a great day to come visit. It's only in the upper eighties, what great weather!" But the first words out of their mouths were "It's so hot!" We laughed.

Then we moved to southern California. If I were to visit Davis this summer, I don't think I'd be able to handle the heat.