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International perspectives on Columbia's heat wave

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

The heat sizzled off the pavement in Columbia as temperatures hit the upper 90s Tuesday, making many residents uncomfortable.

But those born in other parts of the world offered a fresh perspective on the hot weather. 

“I am from a country where we have one season — summer,” Saleh Al-Mazrouei said as he sat inside Starbucks talking to friends.

While sweltering heat has caused many to flock to the pool, Al-Mazrouei called this week's temperatures in Columbia “nice.”

Al-Mazrouei is from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, where the temperature reached 111 degrees Tuesday, normal for this time of the year.

“Here is very, very nice,” said Ali Al-Dousan, a friend of Al-Mazrouei.

Al-Dousan is from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where the temperature hit 108 degrees on Tuesday. Some of the highest and lowest temperatures in world history have been recorded in Saudi Arabia, according to NASA's Web site.

Compared to home, both Al-Dousan and Al-Mazrouei said, Columbia is not hot.

“I think it’s cold here,” Al-Mazrouei said. He said he was glad he missed winter this year. The hardest part about adjusting to Columbia’s weather is the noticeable difference among the four seasons, he said.

“I prefer the hot weather because in cold weather, you have to wear many clothes,” said Hama Al-Qatani, another friend. 

In Saudi Arabia, Al-Qatani said, temperatures can get incredibly low, plunging from a searing heat in the summer months to a biting cold during the winter. He said the coldest temperature he can remember was 23 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ravi Pandey, a post-doctoral student at MU originally from Varanasi, India, said India is “comfortably less humid” than Columbia.

The dew point, a measurement of humidity, does make the recent weather more oppressive, said Butch Dye, hydrometeorological technician at the St. Louis Weather Forecast Office.  

A dew point between 55 and 65 degrees makes the heat more noticeable. When the dew point is in the 70s, the weather becomes even more oppressive. On Tuesday, the dew point ranged from 63 to 65 percent between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Additionally, Dye said, a stable hot-pressure system causes the temperature to be static for a longer period of time, which helps explain the duration of a heat wave.

Some international students have found this week's weather intolerable, however.

“This weather makes me want to kill myself,” said Leo Li, an MU student who arrived here just three weeks ago from Tianjin, China, where it was 81 degrees at 7 p.m. Tuesday.  “I just want to find a room that has AC.”

Li said he and his friends cope by swimming every day, either at the MU Student Recreation Complex or The Ashwood Apartments pools. 

“It’s hot here, but it’s fine for me,” said Naien Tang, who came to Columbia from Taiwan. “The weather is not as humid as my home country. The more humid it is, the more uncomfortable I feel.”


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