Thursday, July 29, 2021

From Oven to Steam Bath

Driving eastward across the High Plains yesterday, my Beetle and I were enveloped in hot, dry air as a steady, southwest wind brought oven-like conditions up from the Desert Southwest.  With each stop across Kansas and western Missouri, the temperature fell as the humidity rose; stepping from the car in Columbia, I entered a steam bath. 

In the course of my journey, I had left the rain shadow of the Rockies and entered the broad moisture plume from the Gulf of Mexico; of course, the elevation of the terrain had also gradually fallen and the "thin air" of the High Plains had become the thick, humid air of the American Midwest.  Reflecting that change, the dry, nearly treeless landscape of eastern Colorado and western Kansas transitioned to the verdant fields and woods of the Heartland.

Unlike the High Country, where radiative cooling drops overnight temperatures into the upper 50s or lower 60s (F), darkness brings little relief in the Midwest; beyond the air-conditioned confines of our house, the steam bath lurked this morning.  Fortunately, a cold front is expected to arrive by this weekend, bringing rain and cooler air.