Friday, July 9, 2010

Was it a heat wave?

Friday, July 9, 2010
By Anthony Fenech, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

For years, meteorologists have tried to pinpoint exactly how a heat wave is defined.

Is it by temperature? By length? By length and temperature?

"It comes up every year and it's come up several times in the past couple years," said National Weather Service Pittsburgh Meteorologist Rich Koch. "But there's not an official definition, and that's because weather is so different for everybody and it has to be applied relatively to where you're at."

But Mr. Koch did say on Thursday that the 90-degree days the city has experienced for the past four days can indeed be classified as a heat wave.

"It's about how it impacts the population," he said. "For me, any significant weather we need to react to can be referred to and probably is a heat wave. The impact is the most important thing."

Not the definition, but the impact, and the disparities in both were on display Thursday afternoon near Market Square.

Carl Fisher, a Gold's Gym security guard from West Mifflin, said the weather doesn't affect him terribly.

"You just have to drink a lot of water to try and stay cool," he said. "And when it's really hot, maybe bring an extra shirt or two."

Jeff Neely, 21, has played the saxophone Downtown all summer, and said the heat has hurt his bottom line of tips.

"It stinks, man," he said. "Literally. A few days, my shirt was completely soaked, I'm all sweaty and gross and people look at me without the same kind of respect, like I'm a bum."

But to him, the recent weather is no heat wave.

"No," he said. "It's just hot and humid, that's all."

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