Jiminy Cricket it's hot

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Stories from the Heartland

By John Friedlein

Supposedly, you can estimate the outside Fahrenheit temperature by counting the number of times a cricket chirps in 15 seconds and adding 37.

The bugs these days must be performing an allegro.

If they could somehow scrape out a number about the humidity, their wings might catch fire.

The heat index in Hardin County recently reached 115 degrees, said Mark Adams, lead forecaster at the Fort Knox weather station.

Also, the dew point – which measures the amount of moisture in the air –  topped 80 degrees.

Some people start to feel uncomfortable when that reading is in the 60s.

In Central Kentucky and elsewhere in the region, it’s a tropical rainforest at times. If you weren’t outside when the dew point reached 80, you still can find out what it feels like: Visit a zoo with a room that houses animals such as snakes and iguanas, Adams said.

This summer, weather centers as far north as Minnesota recorded 80-degree dew points. The Associated Press pointed out how, on one of those days, the only other place in the hemisphere with such a high measurement was the Amazon Jungle.

Ironically, it may take a tropical weather system rumbling out of the Gulf of Mexico to cool us off. Thick cloud cover associated with such a storm — remnants of a hurricane, for instance — could reduce the temperature by 10 to 12 degrees and bring steady rain, which we’ll soon need, Adams said.

For now though, we’ve just got the sticky Gulf air being churned up by a large area of high pressure to our northeast. If it had been to the west instead, the clockwise winds around the high would be scooping down Canadian air like an ice cream vendor.

But no free air conditioning for a while.

“I don’t see a break in the heat for the next 10 days,” Adams said Friday.

Nevertheless, this traditionally is the hottest time of year. It’s the Dog Days of Summer.

The ancient Egyptians came up with the saying for the period from roughly July 3 to Aug. 11 — when they could see the Dog Star Sirius (in the constellation Canis Major), according to the textbook, A World of Weather: Fundamentals of Meteorology. The Egyptians thought the star’s energy combined with our sun’s to produce waves of heat. However, they were “barking up the wrong tree,” according to the text.

The Farmers’ Almanac provides other folklore related to this time of year. One of the sayings doesn’t bode well: “If the first week in August is unusually warm, the coming winter will be snowy and long.”

And, although it’s not an old wives’ tale, Adams said from personal experience: If you see cows standing in a pond the first thing in the morning, “you know it’s going to be hot.”

Stories from the Heartland appears Mondays in The News-Enterprise. John Freidlein can be reached at jfreidlein@thenewsenterprise.com.