According to Facebook and the calendar, today is the first day of summer. Much like when I lived in Wisconsin and called it ‘winter’ whenever it got cold in late November and early December rather than starting to use the term bang on the winter solstice, I have been thinking of it as summer in Arizona for a while now as it has been ‘properly’ hot.
Many people wondered if we would find it too hot and felt that summer would be the test of the rightness of Arizona for us since we only experienced 106F/41C when were visiting last year. On balance, I prefer the dry heat, even with its extremes of temperatures like 118F/47C over lower hot temperatures with more humidity. I don’t think it really feels hotter than summers did living in Wisconsin and Minnesota when it could and would frequently get into the high 80s and low 90s (30-34C), but with 80-90% humidity. Of course, sometimes it would even get into the low 100s F (high 30s C) in the Midwest and in much of the rest of the country. For instance, I easily prefer Arizona’s summer to North Carolina’s. That Southern summer humidity was just a killer last year when we were in central North Carolina in July. We barely left the house.
I also definitely think it’s worth missing out on things like the joy of -40F/-40C in the winter that tend to go with places with even slightly cooler summers, or honestly, I am happy to even avoid anything below freezing. I don’t even really like it when it’s the 40s or 50s (4-15C) all that much and that doesn’t happen much here.
I have now stomped around in the desert when it was 116F/46C out and hung out on my balcony when it was 118F/47C. I have also walked 20 minutes to the bank in -40 in Minnesota. 118 all the way. I felt entirely fine after a dip in the pool, while -40 left me feeling ill for a few days. Being in a heated house didn’t fix exposure in the same way that a dip in the pool takes the heat out of your skin nearly immediately and entirely. I feel that the extreme cold was much more toxic for me than the extreme heat.
Having been here in the summer now, I do really think the winter is the difference more than the summer. There was a day in February where there was an 80 degree difference between Phoenix and the town in Wisconsin where most of my relatives live, Baraboo. The day it was 118 it was 90 where my parents live in Wisconsin, only a 28 degree difference. The winter difference, naturally, felt dramatically different in a way that the high dry heat doesn’t feel dramatically different from most other versions of American summer.
More than that, I think because it tends toward the warm end of temperatures here, everything can just be set up for one kind of weather. It allows everything to be built around a summer lifestyle, while most of the rest of the country swings between the extremes of a dry, cold winter and a humid, hot summer. Given -40 or even -10 is more likely to kill or at least seriously maim you than 90, Minnesota and Wisconsin have to be set up to deal with cold brilliantly, but not as well with the heat aside from all the air conditioning. I mean, it would feel like a waste of money to have a pool in much of the country, whereas here it pays since it can be used comfortably much more of the year than not. The pool combined with the a/c makes the heat a non-issue for me.
Of course, air conditioners can break down. Ours actually did today about 2 hours ago. Our apartment complex was so on top of it that someone was here within an hour and it is now working again. We are happy to learn how seriously they take such an important amenity.
Here is the video: