Tuesday, August 2

Scirocco, Jaguar, Bike

Today, it hit 110F. While that may be an all-time record for the day in North Texas, it has a personal meaning to me. It is the hottest it has ever been since I first arrived in North Texas from Everett, Washington. I found it to be a teachable moment. It taught me about the scirocco. This is an effect that people from places like Arizona have experienced, but isn't discussed in polite meteorological company.

According to Wikipedia, the scirocco is a hot, fierce wind that blows out of Africa. It blows hot. Like a convection oven blows hot. It isn't something most people experience very often, but it drives people crazy - or worse. What's more, the power of a heating wind is something that is usually ignored in heat index values and the National Weather Service, where it talks about heat dangers, here, largely ignores the wind, saying only "strong winds, particularly with hot, dry air, can be extremely hazardous." Exactly the condition people experience in a scirocco.

Our Jaguar in 1979, Ready to Go Home
We first experienced the power of a heating wind in a Jaguar. Specifically, it was a 1971 Jaguar XKE Convertible. It was, I think, 1979 and my sweetheart and I decided to drive to Las Vegas. After an unspecified incident involving our Alfa Romeo, we thought the drive would be pleasant in the Jag, and proceeded east with the top down. Soon, we would learn. Somewhere east of Barstow, we discovered that the wind was not going to be our friend. A couple of miles later, we'd put the top UP to keep the wind away in the fierce darkness. We didn't put the top back down until we were in Las Vegas. That was my first experience.

Today, in a milder form, I experienced the power of a heating wind on my bike. Unlike a Jaguar convertible, there is no top to put up on a bike. Also unlike the long-ago drive to Las Vegas, the sun was contributing its power to the heating. I suggest reading here to find out more about wind heating. I must confess that it was distinctly unpleasant to feel a combined wind and sun temperature rise of 15 degrees or so on top of the basic 110F. While it wasn't nearly so dramatic as in a Jaguar at 70mph, a bike at 25mph in the sun is still a shock.

Wind Heating When it Gets Hot - From Zunis
Personally, I think I might have to change my routine home from work if it gets any hotter. Instead of stopping for hot coffee at the coffee store a mile from my home, I'll detour and stop at the one that is half way in between work and home. LOVE that free, triple filtered ice water! If, on the other hand, it gets over 115F, perhaps I'll detour to the gym and take a cooling shower on the ride home. Yeah, that sounds good, eh? OTOH, our all-time heat record at DFW is 113F. Right now, we've still got three degrees to go and we're running out of time before things start to cool down. In the meantime, I'd just as soon not combine high heat, low humidity, and a long descent down a hill in the sun very often...


Oldfool said...

That's why I keep the AC working in my 24 year old jalopy.
The morning we left Quartzsite, Az it was 113 degrees and it was early. When we got to where it was only 96 degrees it seemed like paradise.
I don't seem to tolerate heat like I used to.

John Romeo Alpha said...

I tried riding to work earlier here when it got hotter. It was easier for me to get used to the heat than to wake up early. scirocco=convection oven, exactly right.

MAC is wack said...

This is something I noticed last summer as I've only known climates with higher relative humidity, relatively speaking. People at work would say something like, "Boy it sure is hot, but at least there's a breeze."

Rat Trap Press said...

I can't believe you're riding in the afternoon heat. You're tougher than I am.

Big Oak said...

Be careful out there. I wouldn't want to imagine what that hot wind is like.

Steve A said...

Training is more than just learning to ride faster...

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