how bad is the heat in the Coachella Valley? the Coachella Valley is nestled within and virtually surrounded by four mountain ranges. it lies just northwest of the Salton Sea, the largest lake in California and a whole very interesting story unto itself. 120 miles from Los Angeles and 100 miles from the Mexican border. the valley is in the Sonoran desert and is extremely arid. don’t let the green colors of the map above fool you.
last week the temperature in Palm Springs hit 122 degrees, one short of the all time historical highest temperature ever. the temperature in Indio, where i am, hit 118.
it was hot!!! when i went to bed at 1am in the morning it was 101 degrees!!
it was bad, no doubt about it. even here in the California desert yesterday was unusually hot.
having said that, the answer to the question of how bad is the heat is more nuanced than you might think.
first of all, the heat is the worst on most days between 1pm and 7pm. this past week, for example, the temperature during those hours has hovered around 113 degrees.
you feel like you are walking into an oven, when you leave an air conditioned car, office, restaurant or home. the heat however is very dry. the humidity has been averaging around 17%.
this is the time of day when most people in the desert stay indoors, hopefully in air conditioned quarters. because of the heat during this period of time each day, the work day for laborers is set so that most of their shifts end no later than 3pm.
how bad is it? well, let me give you an example of what happens at these temperatures. the sidewalks, the streets, the driveways, the patios which have cement or asphalt bases become unbelievably hot. so hot that you cannot walk on them with your bare feet without burning the bottom of your feet. so hot, that if you leave your flip flops outside your door, and you slip into them, you will immediately feel like your feet are on fire, like you are walking on hot coals. it is very painful!!
the good news is that there are other times during the day and night when the temperature is different, in fact lower. I have found that the best time of day is between 5am and 9am. the temperature during this period is usually around 80 degrees, rising to 90 degrees by 9am. a full 20-30 degrees less than the hottest time in the day. (this was not the case on the really hot days, however)
the weather feels great at this early time of day. delightful, as a matter of fact. and, if we are lucky, a little breeze even makes it feel wonderful.
so, as with most things in life, the news is not all bad. there are a few hours of every day where the temperature is delightful. having said that, there are hours where the temperature is brutal.