Posted by NBC12 Meteorologist Andrew Freiden
Some weather terms can’t be defined by numbers alone. A “Heat Wave” is one of those terms. It’s defined by qualitative rather than quantitative terms. One person’s heat wave can be another’s hot spell. In my opinion the numbers we are about to get over the next 5 days (or more) would qualify as a heat wave based on the following definition from the American Meteorological Society’s “GLOSSARY OF METEOROLOGY”
heat wave—(Also called hot wave, warm wave.) A period of abnormally and uncomfortably hot and usually humid weather.
To be a heat wave such a period should last at least one day, but conventionally it lasts from several days to several weeks. In 1900, A. T. Burrows more rigidly defined a “hot wave” as a spell of three or more days on each of which the maximum shade temperature reaches or exceeds 90°F. More realistically, the comfort criteria for any one region are dependent upon the normal conditions of that region. In the eastern United States, heat waves generally build up with southerly winds on the western flank of an anticyclone centered over the southeastern states, the air being warmed by passage over a land surface heated by the sun. See also hot wind.
Ward, R. de C., 1925: The Climates of the United States, 383–395.
Whatever you call it– It’s going to be hot. Do your best to stay cool!