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We aren't 'weather wimps.' Seattle just isn't prepared for deep heat. Why would it be?

Christine Clarridge, The Seattle Times on

Published in Weather News

SEATTLE – Sir Mix-a-Lot has a couple of choice words for the folks out there in social media land calling Seattleites weather wimps.

“Many here don’t have AC … dumb (expletive),” said the Seattle native who’s best known for his rap hit “Baby Got Back.”

Justin Shaw is a little more diplomatic. The citizen forecaster behind the Seattle Weather Blog said he would politely invite the name-callers to spend a night or two in a Seattle house with no air conditioning.

“Let them try to sleep in a 92 degree bedroom,” he said. “Then they can come talk to us and tell us how they feel.”

Our buildings, our roads and our attitudes are not geared for severe heat. Why would they be?

While more people in Seattle have air conditioners now than ever before, it remains the least air-conditioned metro in the nation with only 44% of homes with air conditioning.

 

Humans adapt to weather like they adapt to altitude, University of Washington biologist Ray Huey explained during a stretch of hot days in 2004.

Rushing straight from sea level to the top of Mount Rainier would leave most people dizzy and sick. A similar thing happens when a region accustomed to moderate temperature is suddenly swamped with sweltering weather, he said.

“If we had spent a few weeks in Phoenix and came to Seattle during this heat wave, we wouldn’t be impressed by it at all,” Huey said. But if you’re unused to the heat, he said, you suffer the first couple days “then after that you pretty much get used to it.”

Bodies that aren’t used to high heat need a little time before sweat glands and other systems work efficiently and effectively, according to Dr. John O’Kane, sports-medicine professor and head physician for the UW Husky teams.

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