First I have to add a little to Tony’s recap of the rain totals from yesterday. Last night a small area of heavy rain developed over Marathon county and produced a new record rainfall for today (the 19th of July). The rain total after midnight was 1.62 inches. The old record was 1.57 inches, set just last year. That brings the 2 day rain total for Wausau up to 2.07 inches. It was a great amount of rain to soak into the soil and it came without any severe weather. The is the best part about the rainfall. Almost everyone saw at least a little rain and hardly anyone had to deal with high wind, hail, or tornadoes.
The rain will not show up in this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor because it is tabulated using reports up through Tuesday of each week. Because of this, the southern part of the state is still indicated as being in a severe to extreme drought, even though some heavy rain fell in the bad droughts areas yesterday. It would take some more heavy rain off-n-on over the weekend in order to put a short-term dent in the drought classification, which is unlikely, so the drought in the southern half of the state will likely continue for at least a couple more weeks.
Around the rest of the country it is still bad as the hot weather continues. There are some pockets of improvement in the corn belt in the Midwest but it will not get dramatically better in the next few days because the heat will continue in these areas. It looks like the high heat with temps around 100 will continue in the corn belt through Thursday of next week, then we will likely see a more significant cool down late next week that might last through the end of the month. It would be welcome relief if it develops.
Of course many people seek relief from the heat by heading into air conditioned buildings. That is the most guaranteed way to stay cool but isn’t the most environmentally friendly. Using a fan means using less electricity but it isn’t as good, but it is better than nothing. Which is why I was perplexed by a story I read recently stating that fans DO NOT work to keep you cool from the heat. Now, the article headline might have misrepresented the content a bit, but I was still flummoxed as to why someone would steer people away from using fans, especially if they don’t have air conditioning. The science behind the article was a review of the literature which found no proper studies showing that fans keep people cool during heat waves. Just because there have been no studies about the issue, doesn’t mean it fans are useless. This is where common sense and basic physics triumphs over “studies”.
You would be a fool to not use a fan on a hot day. Fans can not only bring cooler air in from the outdoors, they also help evaporate perspiration off of your body which is nature’s method of cooling you down. If you want to enhance the effect of evaporative cooling you can splash water on yourself. The cooling from evaporation is so powerful that it will even cool you down when the air the fan is blowing around is warmer than your body temperature.
Now of course, you don’t want to put a fan in the window on a day when the temperature is over 100 and much warmer than the temperature of your house. Then you would be bringing hotter air into the house and it will take longer to cool down at night. On a hot afternoon you just need to have the fan blowing on you while you are watching TV, cooking, or sitting by the computer.
What we do to save electricity at our house is turn the fan on (in the window) at night, around sunset, when the temperature outside becomes lower the the temperature of the house inside. It really works well if you have one fan blowing the cool air in and on the other side of the room or house you have another fan blowing hot air out. We let the fans go all night into the morning. Once the sun is up and the temperature rises a bit, then we turn the fans off and pull shades down over the windows. This usually keeps some of the cool night air in the house for a few hours and reduces the need to run our window unit air conditioner.
Another trick I learned when I lived out in California and drove a car without air conditioning is to eat ice cubes. I tried just driving with my windows open all the time but then when I would get stuck in traffic (which is pretty much everytime and everywhere you drive in California) that didn’t help so much. So what I would do is stop at a convenience store and get a large fountain cup. Most of the time I wouldn’t even fill it up with soda (the sugared soda is awful/terrible for your health anyway). I would just fill the large cup up with ice and pay for that (usually $1 or so). A large cup of ice might last me an hour or more. I would hold the ice in my mouth for a little and then crunch it up with my teeth. It seemed too work quite well. Just like drinking a cold glass of water I suppose.
Have a nice Thursday!