Following up on last week, Ask the Pilot weighs in on exactly why the heat in Phoenix is grounding airplanes:
Extreme heat affects planes in a few different ways. First, there are aerodynamic repercussions. Hotter air is less dense than cooler air, so a wing produces less lift. This is compounded by reduced engine output. Jet engines don’t like low-density air either, and don’t perform as well in hot weather. Together, this means higher takeoff and landing speeds — which, in turn, increases the amount of required runway. Rates of climb are also impeded. Performance parameters require that a plane be able to climb away safely following an engine failure, and this might not be possible. Engines also are subject to internal temperature limits — exhaust gas temps, etc. — beyond which operation isn’t permitted. When it’s really hot outside these limits are easier to exceed.
Then you’ve got the simpler, more tangible effects: overheating electronics, increased brake temperatures, cabin cooling issues, and so on. Airplanes have a lot of internal machinery, and much of it runs hot to begin with. Throw in triple-digit temperatures, and things begin to break down. And let’s not forget the effects on ground support equipment and, of course, the people working outside.
It's currently a balmy 39°C in Phoenix. That's almost tolerable, with enough air conditioning.
Phoenix hit a record high temperature yesterday of 48°C, and it's already that hot again today. And right now, it's 50°C in Needles, Calif. In fact, it's too hot for airplanes to take off:
As the Capital Weather Gang reported, the Southwest is experiencing its worst heat wave in decades. Excessive heat warnings have been in effect from Arizona to California and will be for the remainder of the week.
And it was so hot that dozens of flights have been canceled this week at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
American Airlines alerted its customers over the weekend, offering fee-free changes to upcoming flights that were departing or arriving at Phoenix between 3 and 6 p.m., when temperatures peak.
Regional flights on American Eagle were the most affected, because they use Bombardier CRJ planes that can only operate at temperatures of 48°C or below, Feinstein said. Flights on larger Airbus and Boeing planes were not canceled because they are able to operate at higher maximum temperatures: 52.7°C for Airbus and 52.2°C for Boeing.
Meanwhile, a cold front has come through Chicago, dropping the temperature to 18°C at O'Hare around 2pm. And I'm about to walk home in it.
Stuff I didn't get to because I was doing my job today:
Time for a martini, clearly.
Chicago temperatures stayed below 32°C for almost nine months: September 7th all the way until last Sunday, June 4th. Then we had absolutely gorgeous weather during the last work week, which all ended on Saturday when the temperature hit 32°C for the first of (so far) three times. Our forecast calls for continued hot and shitty weather through at least Thursday.
Hey, it happens every year. And our cool weather was pretty good while it lasted.
The bad part is that the temperature killed my Fitbit numbers this weekend. I had the worst day since December 23rd, and that poor performance was because I spent 8 hours on an airplane. Fingers crossed that yesterday's 7,044 steps remains the worst of the year.
Item the first: S&P just cut Illinois' bond rating to one level above junk. Thanks, Governor Rauner.
Item the second: According to Brian Beutler, at least, President Trump could be in serious trouble after James Comey testifies before Congress next week. Will Trump care? Will he even notice?
Item the third: May was cold and dreary in Illinois. Today it's 24°C and sunny, which is neither cold nor dreary.
Item the fourth: Cranky Flier believes that we absolutely should open up the U.S. to foreign airlines, so they can lose money just like American companies.
Item the fifth: People on Chicago's west side oppose extending the 606 Trail because it would increase property values.
I am now going to take a walk because it's emphatically June outside.
I took a short walk today, from Central Street in Evanston to my house. Totals: 16.37 km, 2:25:29, 8'53" per km, 18,357 steps. It's not as far as my epic 28 km walk last June, but I'll probably do another walk that distance sometime later this year. I mean, why not a 32 km walk?
Right. Because my feet hurt.
So far today I'm just shy of 30,000 steps. So I'm not quite in the top 5—but I will be if I walk another thousand steps, which seems pretty likely:
And here's the meandering route I took:
Things to read today:
And finally, the Chicago Tribune has an article on our concert this weekend, and composer Jeff Beal performing in it:
"I suppose it might have been DNA asserting itself," said Beal, who will be in Chicago May 5 and Evanston May 7 when the celebrated Apollo Chorus includes his "The Salvage Men" and "Poor in Spirit" as part of their 145th-season-ending spring concert, "American Masters," in Chicago and Evanston. "It's true that [my grandmother] passed on her love of improvisation, but there's also something almost eerily similar about what she did, watching a screen and creating her own musical accompaniment, and what I do in my day job."
[H]e had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007. Though he took seven years to process the news before beginning to write "The Salvage Men" in 2014.
Serendipitously, that was about the time that Apollo Chorus music director Stephen Alltop, who studied with Beal at Eastman, got back in touch to praise Beal's work on" House of Cards" and suggest the possibility of doing a concert together. Which explains why Beal and his new choral works are appearing in Chicago directly after their debuts in London and Los Angeles. Beal also will perform solo trumpet over the comparatively simple text of his "Poor in Spirit," — it consists entirely of one repeated phrase from the Beatitudes: "Blessed are the poor in spirit" — much as he often plays trumpet over the score of "House of Cards."
Tickets are available through the Apollo Chorus website. It's going to be an amazing concert.
The Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii announced this week that the atmosphere passed 410 ppm of carbon dioxide and is heading for a monthly average of 407 ppm, the highest values observed on earth in millions of years:
Carbon dioxide concentrations have skyrocketed over the past two yearsdue to in part to natural factors like El Niño causing more of it to end up in the atmosphere. But it’s mostly driven by the record amounts of carbon dioxide humans are creating by burning fossil fuels.
“The rate of increase will go down when emissions decrease,” Pieter Tans, an atmospheric scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said. “But carbon dioxide will still be going up, albeit more slowly. Only when emissions are cut in half will atmospheric carbon dioxide level off initially.”
Even when concentrations of carbon dioxide level off, the impacts of climate change will extend centuries into the future. The planet has already warmed 1.8°F (1°C), including a run of 627 months in a row of above-normal heat. Sea levels have risen about a foot and oceans have acidified. Extreme heat has become more common.
Too bad all that data isn't persuasive enough for some people. I guess the planet just needs better P.R.
A little busy today, so I'm putting these down for later consumption:
Now, I must prepare...for Whisky Fest!
So, this happened in Chicago yesterday afternoon:
That was in Chicago. I'm across the lake in southwest Michigan right now, and the cold front passage was no less abrupt here:
Actual photos coming soon.