Pat Shingleton: "Heat Bursts and a Great Invention"
June and July have been especially hot months. In Portugal on July 6, 1949, meteorological observers reported a temperature increase from 100 to 158 degrees in two minutes. On June 15, 1960 at Lake Whitney, Texas, the temperature soared to 140 degrees in three minutes with 100 mph winds. This rapid temperature rise toasted a nearby cotton field and fired-up car radiators to the boiling point. These are examples of heat bursts. These bursts traditionally form after sunset and are associated with thunderstorms that cut off warm, moist air and ultimately collapse the storm. Rain on the topside of the thunderhead sinks into cooler, drier air, compressing it and then bops it to the ground as a hot wind, creating 100 m.p.h. air blasts. Years ago, large attic fans kept homes comfortable through the movement of air. Of course that was many years ago. Today, we're blessed with a system that keeps the temperature and humidity of the air in rooms at values which provide a sense of comfort for humans. This cooling plant divides the air into two streams, one heated and the other cooled. In each room, these two air streams are mixed in proportions to produce a desired temperature. A big salute to Dr. Willis Haviland Carrier and his invention, conditioned air. July 17 marked the 118th anniversary of the invention of modern air conditioning. In the 1900s, a Brooklyn printing plant was the first building to be air conditioned in the world. Today will be another day with early sunshine, lots of heat and steam, maybe an isolated shower and plenty of air conditioning to cool down.