You know, in school and in newspapers, the experts warn you about all the dangers of global warming: Melting ice caps, rising sea levels, more destructive hurricanes. All bad stuff! What they don’t tell you is that when it gets to be around 50C, the footpath gets so hot, it can fry a puppy paw instantly.
Can you imagine the horror these poor pups are facing?! They’re not the only ones dealing with some undeniably extreme consequences of the historic heatwave tearing through the US Southwest right now. In Tucson, the forecast predicts that the Arizona town is about to experience the hottest seven-day stretch in its history, with highs soaring north of 43C for an entire week. According to the National Weather Service, Phoenix tied its high temperature record of 47.7C on Tuesday. Guess when the last time the city saw a temperature that high was? 20 June 2016. And when it’s this hot for long stretches of days, everybody suffers.
Let’s run through a quick list of the absolutely wild facts emerging from this week’s heat wave:
It so hot, planes can’t fly
Did you know that aeroplanes have maximum temperatures at which they’re able to operate? That’s partly because hotter air is thinner than cooler air, making it difficult for planes to take off. On top of that, there are all kinds of issues with overheating. The Bombardier CRJ jets that American Eagle uses for regional flights top out at 47.8C, which is part of the reason why 50 flights in and out of Phoenix were grounded on Monday and Tuesday.
It’s so hot, you can bake cookies and fry bacon inside a car
Because the old fry-an-egg-on-the-footpath trick isn’t that impressive in heat like this, a team of National Weather Service meteorologists baked cookies and fried bacon on a car’s dashboard.
Photo: Twitter / NWS Sacramento
They said the car’s interior temperature was about 93.3C (200F) at the time, which you can barely see on the thermometer in the image above.
It’s so hot, border authorities say it’s “physically impossible” to carry enough water to survive
Some of those most vulnerable in heatwaves like this are migrants attempting to cross the border in the middle of the desert. This is a very bad idea in 50C temperatures. “It is physically impossible for the average person to carry enough water to survive several days of walking through the desert,” United States border patrol said in a statement.
It’s so hot, inmates in Maricopa County’s Tent City get unlimited ice water
This one’s just ridiculous. Since former Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s controversial outdoor prison still hasn’t been shut down, the inmates there have to suffer through the heat in their tents. Some are allowed to leave during the day for work furlough, but they still have to go back to Tent City to sleep. Even at night, temperatures are north of 37.8C.
On the bright side, Joaquin Enriquez, a spokesperson for Maricopa County sheriff’s office told The Daily Beast that inmates “are given unlimited access to ice water” during deadly heatwaves like this one.
It’s so hot, meteorologists need new colours to make weather maps
The National Weather Service maps usually show a mix of green, yellow and orange in the summertime. If it’s especially hot somewhere, you might see a scary red to represent temperatures north of 37.8C.
Image: Facebook / NWS Phoenix
When it gets even hotter than that, the National Weather Service busts out the magenta. This represents “rare, dangerous and very possibly deadly” heat. It also looks scary as heck on an National Weather Service alert with the headline “Deadly Heat Wave!”
It’s so hot, puppy feet fry instantly on the footpath
If you live in one of the areas affected by the heat wave, don’t let your dog or cat go for a stroll with bare paws. And definitely don’t let your kids do it. As the National Weather Service in Sacramento points out, air temperatures over 37.8C mean that an asphalt surface could be as hot as 75C. An egg will fry at 62.2C. Ground beef will cook at 71.1C. At 75C, the NWS says, “skin is instantly destroyed.”
Air temperature vs. rocky ground temperature. Everything heats up in Death Valley–Prepare for the heat, and protect your feet! ????????????️ pic.twitter.com/rOrEo4tFZB
— Death Valley NP (@DeathValleyNPS) June 10, 2017
The same heat conduction effect happens on other surfaces, too. Just look at Death Valley, where air temperatures of 43.9C yield gravel temperatures of 72.2C.
So, if you need to take your dog for a walk, buy him or her some little protective dog booties. That will keep those paws safe and look adorable otherwise.
It’s so hot, everyone needs to pay attention
The National Weather Service isn’t joking around when it say that a heat wave like this is deadly. If you’re in the Southwest US, drink lots of water. Stay as close to an air conditioner as possible. Avoid going outside in the middle of the day. And be safe.