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The Eric Factor: Heat waves more dangerous thanks to ‘Urban Heat Island’

Get ready for a heat wave! While we hit 99 degrees on May 28th, that heat came with relatively low levels of humidity. So, while hot, it wasn’t oppressively humid. This weekend’s air mass will be different.

And one thing to keep in mind is the Urban Heat Island. That is the effect buildings and pavement have on the environment. Have you ever wondered why Meteorologists encourage people to wear light colored clothing during times of hot weather? It’s because light colors reflect more of the sun’s heat and will keep you cooler.

The same works for the urban areas of our cities and towns. The concrete and asphalt absorb more heat and take longer to cool off in the nighttime hours. The Urban Heat Island is most significant on sunny days with clear nights (exactly what is planned this upcoming weekend).

Climate Central looks at how Urban Heat Island affects major cities

During optimum conditions, the inner core of cities can be 22 degrees warmer than the outlying areas. City Summers are on average 2 degrees warmer than the countryside which means that cities like Davenport, Iowa have ten more 90 degree days each Summer, versus other places in Scott County like Blue Grass and Princeton.

-Meteorologist Eric Sorensen