If you’ve experienced the triple-digit temperatures blanketing different areas of United States throughout the summer, you may be wondering just what defines a heat wave. By definition, this weather terminology refers to a prolonged period of time when the weather is excessively hotter than usual in the area where it is taking place. Heat waves are often accompanied by high humidity, making the air feel muggy and hotter than it actually is.
The cause of heat waves is a large high pressure system which forms in the mid and upper levels of the atmosphere, which can cause the mercury to rise 10 degrees or higher than usual. This summer has seen some of the hottest temperatures on record. In fact, according to AccuWeather.com, the 2012 summer has turned out to be one of the three hottest summers in the past 60 years. The month of July alone was the hottest July ever for the continental United States.
A part of a heat wave definition is setting record highs. The ongoing heat wave shattered previous records across much of the United States, reaching well into the triple digits. The heat wave prompted those who were without air conditioning scurrying to the nearest beach, lake, shopping mall, or movie theater in search of relief from the heat.
Heat waves, by definition, are more than just uncomfortable; they can also be dangerous. Authorities across the country have issued heightened fire danger warnings, pleaded for conserved energy use as electricity supplies were strained, and highlighted the importance of hydration to avoid hyperthermia.
According to the Huffington Post, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and Montana have been hit especially hard this year. Colorado, in particular, has suffered from almost double the normal number of 90-plus degree days this summer. The heat wave set a dozen fires ablaze in the state, destroying homes and other properties.
Another facet of a heat wave definition is crop failure caused by drought and excessive temperatures. Farmers across the nation have suffered great losses, and consumers are finding the price of corn, wheat, and other products on the rise. There no doubt about it—the United States suffered through a devastating heat wave this summer.
Now that you have a heat wave definition, you have a better idea of how it has affected the nation this summer. For a simple, beautiful way to keep tabs on the weather, download the WeatherCaster App for your iPad today.