Getting Geeky With Grant – Why home thermometer readings are different from official readings

Getting Geeky with Grant

Elmira, N.Y. (WETM) – This time of year as the weather begins to get warmer and warmer, many people begin to check out their home thermometer readings to check to see how hot we actually get. Especially on a day like Saturday, the first day of 2021 we made a run for 80 degrees across the Twin Tiers, many thermometers on houses can read much higher than official highs that are recorded for the area.

There are a few reasons why this is the case, to start, the thermometer at a house may be placed in direct sunlight. If it is in direct sunlight, the suns rays and radiation will make the surface and thermometer much warmer than the surrounding air temperature. An official recording station is always shaded. It gets the most accurate air temperature and doesn’t take into effect the sun’s effect on surfaces.

Second, the darker the color of the house or surface, the hotter it becomes. This is because dark colors absorb much more radiation than lighter surfaces. Lighter surfaces reflect more back into the atmosphere, keeping the surface cooler. Think about asphalt during the summertime afternoons. It is almost impossible to walk on without shoes because it is so hot. This is not an accurate representation of the air temperature. An official recording station is painted white, reducing heat absorption.

Thirdly, houses nearby or concrete can add radiant heat. Think about how hot a city gets and stays during summer nights as opposed to surrounding areas. All of these surfaces absorb heat throughout the day and makes the surrounding air much warmer. An official air temperature recording box is placed four feet above the ground in an open field to get the most accurate reading possible.

Keep all of these in mind as we head into the warmer months this year. Your readings might be much warmer than those reported on the news for the reasons mentioned above!

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