Unseasonable heatwave affects D.C. homeless

Screenshot from drought.gov

There is a drought this year in the nation’s capital region. Hard to believe, but true. Most visitors wouldn’t notice since they only stay for a few days, and perhaps even welcome the dry weather.

Locals observe that while the mugginess is less than usual, it is tiring all the same. Some elderly and homeless people, you can tell the weather simply by noticing the drenching sweat pouring down their neck and arms.

Strangely no one else is really talking about it. Everyone knows that spring around here is usually mild with lots of rain. Average rainfall is normally at least 3 inches per month, with January and February receiving less rain but more snowfall. So far, this year the amount of rainfall amounts to 11.2 inches between January to May, whereas the normal is approx. 16 inches.

The Drought Monitor depicts lower Maryland as being “abnormally dry.” This affects about 51% of the population that lives in Southern Maryland and along the banks of the Chesapeake Bay. It affects fish and wildlife residing in the estuary, including traveling pods of dolphins, whales, and turtles. Especially it affects the ability of the river to cleanse itself of pollutants and all that rotting litter.

Rising heat and temperatures contribute to water deoxygenation and spurs harmful algal blooms. As scientists and experts note, it only takes a few degrees, perhaps within only half a degree to drastically alter the rate of ice-melt, the survivability of sensitive species, and the blood pressure of humans.

Last May, there were 8 days of above 80 degree weather for the whole month. This May, as of the second week, there are 8 days of above 80 degree weather (at least 4 days of above 90 degrees so far).

Of course the time when data is taken, and how well the gauges are measured makes a big difference, too. Human errors or the human agenda, referring to a society full of overpaid specialists: all may complicate data access and integrity.

For this report we used several sources including: Weather Underground, Weather.com, Drought.gov, and National Climate Data Center. This is because anomalies were noticed (particularly Weather Underground’s temperature charts are low). Checking several sources counters the national trend to minimize climate change, and vast infrastructure investment needs.

Although it appears to be the humble domain of the backyard hobbyist, having your own home weather-station can become the most reliable record. One can back-check with regional records, compare what really happened with one’s notes, observe migratory patterns, and prepare for weather change: all so critically important for real farmers.

When there is a heatwave, emergencies suddenly arise. Elderly and infirmed people must limit their hours outdoors. The indigent are placed in harm’s way because they are more often forced to be outside in the elements. Whether waiting for a bus, or having to trudge from one neighborhood to another, there are more safety risks for young children as well.

The heat is especially destructive for native wildlife, such as deer, who have very few migratory options, and live within green park belts often strewn with plastic and other litter.

This deer stood still to let me capture its surroundings.

This deer stood still to let me capture its polluted surroundings. (photo by AGN, March 2018)