Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Sensation of Cold

South Padre Island can really mess with your internal thermostat. It all depends on if the wind is blowing or not. The classic case is a nice summer day on the beach. Before ten o’clock in the morning the sea breeze hasn’t kicked in, so it feels hotter then at 84 degrees than when the afternoon when the wind is blowing and it is 94 degrees. This is a difficult concept for many to grasp.

In the winter, when the wind finally veers from north to south, it can feel warmer at night even though it the temperature says it is cooler than during the day. Much of that is thanks to an abundant tropical moisture plume that returns on the southeast trades, but lack of wind certainly helps too. The humidity and dew points actually can make it warmer at night in some conditions, often resulting in astounding winter fogs, as thick as Nantucket or San Francisco has to offer any day.

South Padre Island taken together with a few minor allergies, perhaps a dose of Ciguatera, and possible Lime tick disease, my internal thermostat is almost haywire. I walk outside in blasting northers in nothing but shorts and a T-shirt, and shiver some summer days when it blows over 25 miles an hour. But SPI “ain’t for sissies” so I never complain, other than I can tell you the water temperature to the degree just by walking in it.

In short, 76 degree water is cold, 78 is cool, 80 is warm, and everything else is frozen or blazing hot.

Sun exposure can have some interesting effects, too. If you stay outside in the sun for hours and hours for several days, you can get “sun fever.” This makes you feel very cold and the air conditioning a complete nuisance. It happens no matter how much sun screen you use. That’s why you’ll see many locals keeping their houses at over 80 degrees in the summer.

The tourists and renters in the summer, however, turn down the A/C to 65. The funny thing to watch is when all the Islanders and Winter Texans turn on their heaters in the cold spells. More smoke alarms and fire trucks than you can imagine. Happy thermo-regulating, folks!

3 comments:

WD said...

Sam, I hear you.

I've been in the Valley so long if it gets into the 60's, I need "long-johns," but since I mostly wear shorts, to my wife this apparently makes an embarrassingly and completely unacceptable fashion statement. So I am seldom properly attired, fashion or weather-wise.

Despite the wind on SPI -- and I agree with your description -- I think weather-wise it is really so much better on the Island than McAllen. I spend about equal time in both locations.

I guess it is the water temp which affects things? When it is hot in McAllen, I can normally count on 8 degrees or more cooler temps on the Island, and when it is "cold," I can count on it being warmer, although damper, over there.

Such a good thing.

Will

Sam said...

There you are, sir.

wd said...

Well, thank you, my friend. Let's soon someday talk about "da blues," when the moment seems right. No hurry. It be your blog.

(As you can seen, I finally figured out how to leave a comment. TY.)

WD