The Midwest and Eastern United States have been forced to deal with a record-setting heat wave, but the Indianapolis Star has asserted that the heat was much easier to handle when our Grandparents were our age.
Newser reports that, while Indianapolis’s four-day long streak of over 100 degrees may seem unbearable to many residents, it was probably nowhere near as miserable as the heat wave in 1936 which holds the record for nine days of 100-degree weather in a row.
At the same time, however, the Indy Star notes that it may actually be harder for us to deal with the heat now than it was in 1937, partially because we’ve been spoiled by things like Slurpees and air conditioners. The National Weather Service notes that, “Back then, they had a lot less amenities to help. I would think they would have been a little more used to the heat.”
Researchers with the University of Miami have shown that it’s not actually the intensity of the heat wave that causes heat-related sickness and death, but actually the “variability of the weather” in cities that don’t normally experience extreme heat–or maybe because, thanks to air conditioning, populations that have not had to experience it.
Indy Star reports that Dr. Laurence Kalkstein, a bioclimatologist at Miami, has been working with cities to plan for heat-related disasters. Kalkstein argues that people in Arizona can withstand heat waves much better than people in Indiana, and other Midwest and Eastern states, because their lifestyles (including their buildings) have adapted to the heat.
Newser reports that Earl Broen with the National Weather Service, states:
“The data suggests the first few days of a heat wave are the most impactful. Over time, you do kind of get acclimated to the hot weather, the longer it lasts.”
But don’t worry, the heat wave is not expected to last nine days, like the one in 1937.