How Hot was it Today?

The question pops up every time the weather turns warm.

It's an eternal question that crops up every time the temperatures get above 80.

"Just how hot was it today?  I saw a sign that said XX... but I can't believe that it was that warm..."

The problem is that there are a lot of time and temperature signs around the region, and by the time we drive past two of them, the temperature has not only  changed, but we're in a different part of the valley.


Does this REALLY have an impact on our weather?  On the temperature?  Yes!

It is not uncommon to find a two degree difference between downtown Parkersburg (where there is lots of brick and concrete) and Little Hocking ( where there is lots of green and hilltops).  The two degree difference is not just because one sign might be non-calibrated.

What this means is that it may be years (if ever!) since that temperature probe has been calibrated.

And when it is done, it typically will be done so that 32 degrees F is accurate...but the higher end of the scale may not be.

After all, we are critically concerned with whether that melt water is freezing right now or not. So that's more important than calibrating it to read accurately at 80 F.

Also, these time and temperature signs are notoriously inaccurate because of two other factors. They are usually adjacent to a black top parking lot that absorbs solar energy and returns it as heat... inflating the temperature.

But also, the temperature probe is inside a metal box that the sun is shinning on.  Inside this oven, it may be several degrees warmer than outside!

So it's not that the company that owns the sign is trying to lie to us, nor that the sign is mis-representing the temperature. It may be accurately showing us what it is feeling.


But today, I saw signs reading 80, 82, 86, and all within a few minutes of each other.  And I just saw the airport temperature reading of 75 moments earlier on the Internet.

So, who's right?  They all are.

We report the official temperature observed at the airport...but you may see higher in the city. You'll note the difference over time.

The airport is green, on top of a hilltop, and away from most concrete and blacktop.  And so, the temperature is usually not affected by the traffic, the heat and the bustle in the city.

So the next time someone quotes you the temperature that they saw on a Time and Temperature sign... just nod.

 

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