The Weather Channel came out with its rankings of the hottest cities by region Thursday, and D.C. was tops in the Northeast. The other winners by region? Northwest: Medford, Oregon; Midwest: Wichita, Kansas; Southeast: Montgomery, Alabama; South-central: Laredo, Texas; Southwest: Yuma, Arizona
U.S. News and World Report summed up our uneviable award accordingly:
All that hot air coming from the White House and Capitol Hill has had an impact on Washington, D.C.: The Weather Channel has crowned the city the hottest in the Northeast and one of America’s six hottest cities. Hot as in heat, not the hipness factor.
So how did the Weather Channel reach this verdict?
Weather.com senior meteorologist Jonathan Erdman provides his rationale:
It’s not just the heat, it’s the humidity. The district was built on a swamp. The proximity to Chesapeake Bay ensures an ample supply of low-level moisture during the torrid summer months.
Erdman, who recalls suffering through D.C.’s “brutal summers” as a kid, also provides the following statistics about our heat, all of which check out:
- Average Jun-Aug high temperature: 86.2°
- Average # of 90°+ days/year: 37 days
- Average first 90°+ day of year: May 19
- Average final 90°+ day of year: Sep 12
- All-time record high: 106° (7/20/1930)
- Average # of 100°+ days/year: 1-2 days
But I have several problems with Erdman’s award and rationale:
1) Since when was Washington, D.C. considered the Northeast? We’re more appropriately geographically defined as the mid-Atlantic. And if you must divide the East Coast in two parts, is D.C. - located south of the Mason Dixon line - really north? Debatable.
2) If D.C. is in the so-called “Northeast” - of course it will technically be the hottest as the southernmost city, and the award isn’t terribly meaningful.
3) By Weather.com’s definition of the Northeast, there’s little doubt D.C. has the hottest temperatures but I’m not actually convinced D.C. “feels” the hottest on hot days. Have you been to downtown Baltimore or Philadelphia on a triple-digit day? To me, their towering skyscrapers absorb and retain the heat much more intensely than D.C.’s more diminutive skyline.
4) D.C. was not built on a swamp. This myth has been thoroughly debunked.
What do you think about this award? I kind of think it’s a sham...