24 August, 2015

Sizzling Summers

It's been really hot this summer, but not for as long as usual (speaking from experience, not stats, mind). We had an eight-day heat wave (31st July to 7th August) with maximum temperatures at or above 35˚C. Since then it's been more mild except for the occasional spike. Of course the humidity has remained high.
This was one of the last nights of the heat wave in our bedroom. It was one
of the only nights, however, that I really struggled to sleep. I've been very
surprised at how well I've managed.

Because we've had relatively nice temps (only 29˚C or so at bedtime), I was surprised to find this on Saturday night. The humidity isn't shown, but it was around 89%. Just a bit hotter than we were used to.
Other than those extreme days and twelve other days that they were 34˚C or 35˚C temperatures have mostly been in the low 30s. 

What makes the summer especially hard to bear in Tokyo is the humidity. Average relative humidity commonly sits between 70% and 80% in summer, which is higher than a place like Brisbane. Brisbane tends to get very humid during the day, but that dissipates more at night-time than Tokyo's does.

My parents noticed that the nights are hot, that we rarely get a breeze of any kind (and they were here just before it got really awful), and that the houses are often hotter inside than out in this weather. 

The houses are packed close together, but I don't think that's necessarily the reason for the lack of breeze because we certainly get plenty of breeze at other times of the year. The hot nights are related to how much concrete and asphalt there is around. That effect is known as the Urban Heat Island effect.
  1. An urban heat island (UHI) is a city or metropolitan area that is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas due to human activities.

Here's the heat index, which show that we've been living in the "Extreme Caution" and  "Danger" zone for weeks now.

The good news is that it's cooler today. My phone says it's currently 27˚C with 61% humidity. It was only 25˚C in our bedroom when we got up at 6.30 this morning, it felt almost chilly after what we've had. Our bodies have obviously adjusted. Friday was pretty mild at 29˚C,  but it was humid and a friend who's spent the last year in dry Seattle was very uncomfortable. 

How we feel about the climate is all relative! So it always surprises me when people persist in asking, "Which season is your favourite?" Because summer in Seattle, Glasgow, and Tokyo are obviously vastly different. Brisbane and Tokyo are much more similar, but I still prefer a Brisbane one.

By the way, here's a post I wrote two years ago comparing Tokyo, Brisbane, and Glasgow's climates, including some nice stats.

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