Weekend Weather Wows: Marathon heat wave strikes Florida, and the South, and the West

In a summer that has blasted the Southern U.S. with enough heat that Elsa just might win the next presidential election, the Florida Keys might take the trophy for worst of the worst — though there are plenty of contenders.

MARATHON, Fla. — Imagine being in a city where it feels like you've already run a marathon every time you step out the door? Welcome to one of the most aptly-named cities in Florida this summer.

It's time for our weekly feature, "Weekend Weather Wows," where we'll go back and find the most exciting tidbits of weather you might have missed over the past week, so you'll be ready to impress at the water cooler (or virtual water cooler) come Monday.

Running for the hills? Don't bother

In a summer that has blasted the Southern U.S. with enough heat that Elsa might just win the next presidential election, the Florida Keys could take the trophy for worst of the worst -- though there are plenty of contenders.

The city of Marathon reported a temperature of 98 degrees Thursday, which by Florida standards is hot enough as it is. Factor in that the waters around the Keys are now up over 91-93 degrees, and you find yourself surrounded by a pool of steamy bathwater that graces your region with unbelievable humidity as well.

The dew point reached 80 degrees which, when combined with the 98-degree temperature, felt like 118 degrees. Factor in your sweat, which will be instant and widespread, yet worthless, and it's like a personal "reek" tragedy.

By the way, Marathon wasn't done warming, eventually reaching 99 degrees later that day - its all-time record high.  

Miami hasn't been a slouch during this heat wave, reaching a heat index of 110 degrees multiple times this week. Before this week, Miami had only reached such heights on 1% of its dates.

At least it’s a dry blow torch

Out in the Desert Southwest, temperatures are reading close to 118 as well — only there, it’s the actual temperature. Both Phoenix and Las Vegas haven’t quite hit 118 (yet), but 110 certainly hasn’t been an issue.

Phoenix has now been over 110 degrees for two weeks with no signs of stopping and is on an inevitable road to smashing their record streak of 18 set in 1974. The question isn’t if, but "by how much?"

Here at least with low humidity, sweat works if you dare venture outdoors.

Did Death Valley get the hottest US forecast ever?

Earlier this week, NOAA’s automated point-and-click forecast predicted a high of 131 degrees in Death Valley for Sunday, which would have been the hottest reliable temperature recorded on the planet (breaking the old "record" of 130). The 1913 reading of 134 degrees at Death Valley is still considered the world record. However, many climate scholars believe that reading is suspect.

The forecasts have since "cooled" to the mid-120s, but that 131 was probably among the hottest forecasts ever computed for an inhabited area.

By the way, did you know legend has it that "Death Valley" owes its name in part to a snowstorm?

Meanwhile, it snowed in South Africa

A friendly reminder that on half the planet, we’re in the heart of winter. 

South Africa needs no reminder.

Johannesburg had its first snow in over 10 years this week, just enough for a few snowballs and snowmen. For young children, it was likely their first-ever experience with snow. 

"I would maybe do things we used to see in cartoons," student Makondelela Mutchia told Reuters. "Making snow angels and whatnot."

The wind chill dipped as low as 13 degrees before rebounding to the 50s later that week.

Cleveland, Texas, and Toronto may pull off rare day-night single header

If Major League Baseball has any flair for the dramatic, they’ll schedule day games for a few of their teams' home openers.  

MLB released their schedule for 2024 on Wednesday, and many eagle-eyed sports fans and astronomers immediately noticed that the inaugural home games for the Cleveland Guardians (against the Chicago White Sox) and Toronto Blue Jays (against the Seattle Mariners) come on April 8. The Texas Rangers also have a home game in Arlington against the Houston Astros that day.

That happens to be the date of the solar eclipse in 2024, and Cleveland is in the path of totality, as is Arlington, Texas. Toronto is just a few miles from the peak eclipse path and would have to settle for more than 99% coverage. 

The eclipse lasts from roughly 2-4 p.m. ET (1-3 p.m. CT), which would put the event square in the middle of a day game that would typically begin at 1 p.m. either Eastern or Central time.

Both Texas and Toronto have retractable roofs, but hopefully, they'd keep them open for this unique event if their game falls in the middle of it.  

MLB has yet to release the time of any games yet and may opt for the lame idea of having them start at 7 p.m., but imagine the fun in the outfield catching fly balls amid a shrinking sun?

Sleepless in (everywhere but) Seattle

You’ve drifted off to sleep when in the dead of night, you, or your kids or pets or all of the above, are suddenly jolted awake by a massive crack of thunder. "Not again," you mutter as you try to calm your racing heart and grumble that it’s the third time this week it’s happened.

Of course, that story plays out in some places more than others. Curious himself, Daryl Herzman with Iowa State’s IEM has compiled a map showing where the most frequent nighttime thunderstorms occur by counting the number of thunder reports between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. 


Oof — that’s a lot of sleepless nights in the Plains and in South Florida, which go off the charts with more than 25 thundery nights a year.

Meanwhile, in Seattle and along the California coast, thunder keeps us up on average less than one night a year.

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