The Gravitationist

Like evolution, gravity is only a theory,
but I feel the truth of both in my bones.

05 August 2007

Dog days

If you want to know about dog days, visit the Arkansas River Valley to experience our August. Some time during the month you will confront breathtaking meteorological ambience.


A noon walk from the house to the mailbox and back will leave a man's shirt damp. The same slow walk at 5 p.m. will soak the shirt and leave the man breathing hard. In August, the heat and humidity descend upon our river valley like a wet canvas cloak. If you plan to do any work outside, wear a button-up shirt, because you'll strain something removing a T-shirt.

Thermometers often reach triple digits. Electricity bills always do.

The survival strategy is to stay indoors if you can. If you must work outside, do it as soon as you have enough morning light to see (these days, about 6:30 a.m.) and finish up by 10 o’clock. Summer temperature usually jumps 15 degrees or more between daybreak and 10.

The real dog days are those with no wind. A large high-pressure center frequently drifts slowly over the Ozarks in summer, which leaves our valley with little or no surface air movement. Anyone who has not experienced 98°F with 88% humidity in calm air has not experienced real summertime.

The dog days came in the first week this August. The northeast Arkansas town of Newport hung up summer's first official 100° reading on August 4. There will be many more to come for all of us.


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