Sizzling Surfaces

Sizzling Surfaces

It's no secret that it's hot in Fallstown, but when you're outside, what you may not realize is just how hot everything around you is.

Take for instance where your kids play.

Temperatures were already in the 90s at 11:15am in Wichita Falls, which is probably one reason why no one is on the Lucy Park playground this morning. However, the things that you actually play on on the playground are much hotter than 90 degrees.

We took a reading with our infrared thermometer on a playground slide, and it read about 130°
We took some other measurements at Lucy Park:

The swings: 135° 
A step in the shade: 115°
The sand that your child runs through (hopefully with shoes on) : 150°

But, why does this matter?

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), human beings start to feel pain around 111°. First degree burns can occur when the thermometer hits 118, and second degree burns at 131. An egg fries at 144°, and skin is instantly destroyed at temps of 162 degrees or higher.

With this in mind, we wanted to focus on three surfaces Texomans walk on every day: Grass, Sidewalk, and Asphalt.

At 1:15pm.:
Grass: 124°
Sidewalk: 140°
Asphalt: 152-155°

The reason for the temperature difference is a concept known as albedo, or the amount of energy from the sun that is reflected back up into the atmosphere.

Objects with high albedo (fresh snow or light colored clothing) don't absorb as much heat as objects with low albedo (blacktop or dark colored clothing)

So the lower the albedo is, the more sunlight a particular surface traps. Simply, low albedo means hotter surface temperatures.

So the next time you're walking your four legged friend or on two legs to get the paper, keep this in mind, so you don't get burned.

Skywarn 6 Meteorologist Dave Caulfield