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Keith McCord ReportingThis is not a good time to be on a highway construction crew or being a roofer working with hot tar. Playing tennis or jogging will certainly wear you out. In fact, it's blazing throughout the entire western U.S.!
All that heat is putting a strain on power systems, it makes fighting large wildfires much more difficult, and farmers are struggling to keep crops watered. To stay cool, being in the water is a popular activity right now.
Patrick Wiggins, NASA's Solar System Ambassador for Utah, says our distance from the sun fluctuates during the year. In January we're the closest, at 91 million miles. Right now we're at 94 million. "There's a bit of irony here because this week, the earth and the sun are as far apart as they're going to get this year."
But, he says, distance from the sun doesn't dictate the temperature here on Earth; the Earth's tilt does!
"And it just so happens that this time of year, we here in the northern hemisphere, we're tilted toward the sun, 23 degrees or so, which puts the sun higher in the sky," Wiggins explains.
That means it's up there longer, and as Wiggins puts it, we "cook" a little longer! We're certainly cooking in Utah right now! But consider this: Our hot temps aren't even close to some of the all-time world records:
- Libya holds the record at 136 degrees!
- Death Valley, California has the second-highest reading of 134.
- A city in Israel checked in at 129. So, it could be worse. By the way, we only have 169 days to go before the first day of winter. We checked the high temperature for Hell, Michigan. It was 82 there today, so yes, Salt Lake is hotter than... well, you know.