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Dennis’ Tidbits

By DENNIS McTIGHE 

June 12, 2020

Remember the invasion of the flying spiders?

Dennis 5Anybody who was around on June 12, 1979 will never forget that famous day 41 years ago. It was right out of a Twilight Zone episode. What planet were these invaders from? Thousands upon thousands of tiny little black spiders were everywhere, spinning a mean white silky web that hung from everything imaginable: tree branches, fences, car radio antennae, you name it. 

Well, it was all about the weather that day. A Santana wind, rare for June, was happening, featuring strong gusty northeasterly winds. At 8 a.m. that morning, temps were already at 85 degrees, and they’d eventually top out at a ridiculous 101 in the afternoon. 

The winds transported all of these little critters from their habitat, which was the upper desert northeast of Laguna, so the direction of the wind straight-lined them all the way to our coast. That’s from about 100 miles away! A lot of people went in the water that day because of the heat. After bathers dried off, the spiders would land on any exposed skin and sting slightly where they landed. 

As it turned out, the little guys weren’t biting people – instead the salt from the ocean on the body set off a stinging sensation. Crazy, eh?

When it gets that hot here in Laguna, there’s hardly any humidity at all, unlike other parts of the country where it can get downright stifling, to the point that you can’t even bear to be outside for even five minutes. Just sitting still, you experience a total soaking-wet body sweat. The old adage comes into play: It isn’t the heat, it’s the humidity. The job of keeping the body cool falls increasingly upon the evaporation of sweat as the temperature rises. 

Meanwhile, the other forms of heat dissipation, such as radiation and convection, which depend upon temperature differences between the skin and surroundings, are reduced in effectiveness. In turn, the rate of evaporation of sweat is influenced by the humidity in the surrounding air. Wind speed and thermal radiation are also factors.

Discomfort is usually a complaint as soon as sweating begins, although to be sure, the discomfort and heat stress on the body would be much greater if one could not sweat. Clothing reduces the effectiveness of sweating, but it is needed for protection from the sun, unless you’re me where I’m always as dark as a walnut and never burn, so I’m better off without a shirt at all. In order to reflect heat and enhance circulation of air, hot-weather clothing should be light colored, lightweight, porous, and loose fitting. For most individuals, cotton or high cotton blends are still the best hot-weather fabrics.

Meanwhile, local ocean temps have been on a roller coaster ride recently. Late last week, temps rebounded back into the upper 60s from the upper 50s the week before, thanks to southeasterly wind during that strong Catalina eddy we had. Then the winds blew stiffly out of the NW earlier this week sending temps back down near 60. Call it the war of the winds! 

Have a great weekend, ALOHA!