You may not think that answering the question “What is a heat dome” has anything to do with the Internet, but here’s why it does: With this incredible, massive, near-national heat wave, news outlets across the country are throwing out the term ‘heat dome’, and people are taking to the Internet to find out just what the heck a ‘heat dome’ is, and it’s nearly impossible to find a site that will tell you what is a heat dome! So, here we are, filling that void on the Internet, and telling you what a heat dome is.
The reason you can’t find much about a “heat dome” is because it’s an alternative term for another concept, known as a “heat island”. When a heat island occurs around a city, it’s called an “urban heat island”, or UHI.
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A heat island describes the phenomenon of when an area remains continually warmer than the immediately surrounding areas (this is more common in towns and cities, where cement and other building materials absorb and retain the heat, hence the “urban” in ‘urban heat island’).
As the town or city (or other ‘heat island’) heats up throughout the day, a dome or bubble of warm air forms over the area, further trapping the heat below it. This dome forms due to the convective quality of the heat rising from the surface into the immediate atmosphere. And because of this dome effect, the heat stays trapped in the area even after the sun goes down.
Our hearts go out to all of the people who are learning about heat domes first-hand. Please remember that excessive heat can kill, and to take appropriate precautions, and to stay well hydrated.
Movie theatres are a great place to escape the heat, as are (we hate to suggest it, but) shopping malls.
Please also remember the elderly, the sick, and animals, are especially susceptible to heat stroke and death.
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