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Another heat wave settling in over northeast Kansas

It's like a heat wave...

Whether it's the forecast or a song by Martha and the Vandellas, the phrase "heat wave" is often overused. Probably because when day after day of heat and humidity set in, everyone is talking about it and there just aren't enough good phrases to sum up the unpleasant weather.

Of course, there are a lot of choices in descriptive heat words. Some that shouldn't be uttered--even on the web, still others that you just have to throw out because anything that contains the word "moist" shouldn't even be used.

So, we're left with hot, miserable, steambath, sauna, scorcher, etc. But what about heat wave? What is the difference between a hot summer day and what makes a heat wave?

According to the Glossary of Meteorology, a heat wave is: "A period of abnormally and uncomfortably hot and usually humid weather.To be a heat wave such a period should last at least one day, but conventionally it lasts from several days to several weeks." At one point, heat wave was defined as 3 consecutive days over 90 degrees. Of course, that would mean that every July and August is one big heat wave.

Up north, that 3 days over 90 is the rule, but everywhere else it's modified to what is "normal". Obviously, highs in the 90s is common in Kansas. However, upper 90s or above for a period of time and heat indices (yes, that's the correct plural form) over 100 are typically when we start using the "heat wave" wording.

Regardless of the real name of it, I say it's time to sit indoors with the A/C cranking and wait for a better season to arrive.


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