No, this post does not pertain to the U.S. Presidential race though the title might be appropriate; rather, it reflects the oppressive heat that has plagued much of the country for most of the season. With August on the docket, our discomfort may persist for some time to come.
The excessive heat, dry in some regions and steamy in others, has been brought to us by a persistent, subtropical, high pressure dome. Enveloping the southern two-thirds of the U.S., it has deflected Pacific storms across the northern States and has blocked any incursions of cool Canadian air that would provide a temporary reprieve. While "pop-up thunderstorms" develop on occasion, they offer transient relief, leaving behind surface water that soon turns to steam.
While this summer heat is not directly related to global warming, it should give pause to those who deny its existence or welcome its development. Unlike the cold of winter, to which we adapt with warm, layered clothing, the oppressive heat of summer saps our energy and forces us into our air-conditioned homes, cars and offices. Naturalists and outdoor athletes may take advantage of the relative coolness at dawn and dusk but, for most of the day, the blazing sun rules. To paraphrase the words of John Steinbeck, this has been the summer of our discontent.