The passage of the July 4th holiday has always signified for me that we’re really officially into the summer season. (That, and the rising temperatures.) Given the tropical heat and humidity we experience here in the Keys, summers here aren’t nearly as brutal as they are elsewhere in Florida or other parts of this great nation.
The fact that we’re surrounded by water is what keeps us a bit more insulated from the extreme temperatures that mainlanders experience. While many places in the United States (and other countries) routinely experience high temperatures over 100º, we rarely get higher (temperature-wise) than 92º. We also don’t cool off at night as much, rarely dipping below 80º. Add in our ever-present humidity, however, and we often feel a lot warmer than the actual temperature. (And the word is “temperature,” not “temp,” like the way too many TV weatherpersons misuse the word these days. “Temp” was always short for a temporary worker in the America I grew up in, Mister! A “high temp” wasn’t what a TV weatherman would call 95º; it was descriptive of a short-term employee who was stoned out of her gourd.)
Meteorologists have given the combination of heat and humidity a name: the Heat Index. So when it’s 92º and 75% relative humidity, it actually feels like 116º. Paris Hilton might say, “That’s hot.” That’s why I can walk the streets of Las Vegas in August at 110º and still have a dry shirt, while 20º cooler in Marathon with our humidity means I take multiple shirts to all my outdoor gigs. Of course, the dryness of the Vegas desert cracks your skin and chaps your lips, and totally dries out your nasal lining. What a tradeoff.
Other Hot-As-Hell places I’ve spent summers in are the inland southern cities of Columbia, South Carolina and Augusta, Georgia. Combine lots of concrete and asphalt with high temperatures and humidity and absolutely no breeze and you have a recipe for broiled sweltering misery. Why those entire towns don’t just empty out in August is beyond me.
Getting past the Heat Index, there are actually good things about summer in the Keys. We almost always have some sort of breeze (and not, hopefully, the 70 mph variety). The waters are calmer. The underwater visibility is at its best for divers and snorkelers. The fishing is great. And we seem to miss most of the mainland summer afternoon thunderstorms (sorry, Key Largo). And there seems to exist a visitor base that helps sustain our local economy. So bring a towel, extra shirts, and plenty of water. Then you’ll be ready for whatever summer throws your way.
* * * * * * *
Marathon lost one of its finest ambassadors last week when Dave Navarro left us way too early. Dave, I hope you find peace and serenity, as well as a good spot for fishing. Tight lines, my friend.