Back in May, I grabbed my towel, wiped away the sweat dripping onto my phone’s screen and lost a few more of my UK friends by tauntingly posting the following comparison showing that on no day during the coming week would London’s maximum temperature surpass New York’s minimum.
It got hotter.
Until I moved here, I wasn’t even aware of the concept of the heat index, which was originally known by a far more wonderful name, humiture. In much the same way that poor souls in the UK talk about the actual temperature vs the perceived temperature due to wind chill, those in warmer climes will compare the stated weather to the humiture, which takes into account the effect of humidity.
My British penchant for talking endlessly about the weather aside, it’s actually been fascinating to me to see the effects of sustained hot temperatures. On the hottest day this year thus far (40°C/103°F, humiture 45°C/113°F), Con Ed – the company managing the city’s energy supplies – reported a new record peak load on the electricity grid. Over here, you see, nearly everyone has air conditioning pretty much as standard and as a result, it’s often cooler inside on hot days than I’ve ever found in Britain.
It’s not just homes and businesses that relentlessly blast cold air out onto the streets though, New York has earned my undying love for air-conditioning the carriages on the subway. Year-round, however full the train, the cloying, humid pressure-cooker atmosphere of the London Underground is never reproduced and better yet, in summer, people actually breathe a sigh of relief as they step off the platform and onto a crisp, cool train.
Possibly the best thing I’ve seen in the city so far this summer though, has been the water-on-the-go drinking fountains available in a whole range of public places so that New Yorkers and tourists alike don’t pass out on the streets.
Let’s see if I’m still so cheery about things once August gets underway.