Hotter than Hell

Literally, we were two degrees hotter than Hell, Michigan.

I don’t want any crap from you southwesterners boasting about how hot it’s been in Phoenix. You don’t have to deal with humidity.

Does anyone know of someplace where the temperature varies only between 20 degrees and 79 degrees Fahrenheit, and the relative humidity never crosses the mid-30% threshold? Are there jobs available there?

About J@m3z Aitch

J@m3z Aitch is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.
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15 Responses to Hotter than Hell

  1. D. C. Sessions says:

    You don’t have to deal with humidity.

    Sure we do. I won’t claim that a dew point of 65F puts us in your misery department, but it’s enough to make the swamp coolers useless when it’s 118F outside. They aren’t really even much help when it’s only 98F just before sunrise.

    Does anyone know of someplace where the temperature varies only between 20 degrees and 79 degrees Fahrenheit, and the relative humidity never crosses the mid-30% threshold?

    Sure. Mexico City comes to mind. Or, better yet, Cuernavaca. Lovely place: a bit over 2000 meters up in the tropics, never gets all that warm and you can wander around in short shirts on New Years’ Eve.
    Or, alternately, the dry side of Maui or the Big Island.

    Are there jobs available there?

    Wrong question, I suspect. Perhaps you meant to ask “what kind of jobs are available there?” However, the National University in the Ciudad de Mexico does, last I looked, employ social science faculty.
    By the way, humidity down in that range is actually not good for you — too dry for respiratory health. And I say this as a desert rat.

  2. James Hanley says:

    D.C., No, I mean are there jobs at all. Days like this I think I’d happily give up my job just to scrape by in a place without summer heat and humidity. Not Mexico City, however, as it’s too polluted. But my college has, or had, an affiliation of some sort in Cuernevaca. Hmmm, do they get snow there? I’d hate to give up snow. Really temperatures down to single digits or even just below zero don’t bother me much if it’s dry, so if I were really looking I’d err toward that end of the spectrum.

    Humidity really plays hell with my asthma. Not that it can’t be too dry for me, but I’ve always been able to draw clean breaths when the humidity is in the mid 30s. Whatever damage the low humidity might do to my system is almost certainly offset by the benefits of preventing asthma attacks.

    Swamp coolers! That takes me back to my time in L.A. They’re unknown in the Midwest for obvious reasons, so when my wife first told me how they work I was flabbergasted–you mean you actually want to make the air moister? No, no, no, you want to cool things down by taking the moisture out of the air. Recently her parents replaced their ancient swamp cooler with a central A/C unit, so I feel like I won that one. Gotta love the swamp coolers, though–a pretty efficient way to cool your house.

  3. Before I moved to Chicago from Denver, I said “what’s the big deal about humidity? All that moisture in the air oughtta make it that much cooler, right?” Now that I live in Chicago (without air conditioning, on a second floor apartment), I say, “what the @$!#! was I thinking!”

    I don’t know if Denver meets your criteria, Mr. Hanley, but I know people at least claim that asthmatics do well there. (Fortunately for me, I don’t have asthma, so I can’t say from firsthand experience.)

  4. Dr X says:

    I’m up in the same neck of the woods as James, and this week has been a living hell. I’ve spent plenty of time in AZ and the desert Southwest during summer months. During one stretch when the temp was repeatedly in the 110-115 range, I was out and about everyday. I even did some running one day. Just stay hydrated and wear a hat. It’s damned hot, but what impressed me was that it was far less unpleasant than temps 20F lower can be around these parts. I was actually thinking of that on Wednesday when we also reached 99F here. It ranked as one of the most oppressive experience of heat I’ve ever had. Maybe the 95 heat wave (740 heat-related deaths in Chicago) was worse, but not by much. Three A/C’s running full throttle couldn’t keep our modest place (the brick oven, as my wife calls it) comfortable. We had to move out for the week.

  5. James Hanley says:


    But Denver is…big! There are cars and traffic and people.

    On the other hand, not many miles outside of Denver, going uphill from the city…yeah, that’s the ticket.

  6. ppnl says:

    I spent a year in Littleton Colorado. You could see snow fields in the distant mountains from town for much of the summer. The local mountains, what they called the foot hills, was easy hiking distance from where I lived. So was the mall. I broke my collar bone on a bicycle coming down from the mountains. I think Littleton has grown considerably since then.

    It can get cold with wind that rips to the bone. The heat is not bad but the sun will burn you.

  7. Lance says:

    Addis Ababa has average high temperatures between 69 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit and lows between 45 and 55. The humidity is very low except during the rainy season and then the highs are in the upper 60’s so it’s not exactly oppressive.

    Jobs? Well….

    Actually an English speaking professor could probably score a decent position at Addis Ababa University and make enough money to live comfortably and even employ a servant or two.

    I have kicked around the idea of moving to Addis but haven’t figured out a way to make enough money to live there nine months of the year and then live here in the US during the summer.

    Oh, and you live pretty close to the western shore of Lake Michigan don’t you?

    Head for the beach my good man.

  8. Mr. Hanley:

    I actually don’t think of Denver as all that big, now that I live in Chicago. The mass transit there isn’t as good as Chicago’s, but in my opinion, it’s pretty manageable. I lived there and in Lakewood, a Denver suburb, for a long time without a car and it worked fine. However, I didn’t (and don’t) have a family to lug around or grocery shop for, so that’s something to consider. Also, some of the outlier suburbs, like Lakewood, or Golden, or (if you can afford it) Boulder, have pretty easy access to the foothills. These (except for Boulder) less friendly for non-car people.

    The one thing that really bothered me was the lightning, which seemed, to me at least, pretty vicious, and the occasional tornado or instance of extreme weather.


    I don’t know when you lived in Littleton, but I agree that it has grown quite a lot in the last 20 years or so. My brother lives there (actually, now he lives, I think, in Centennial).


    I’m sorry for rambling on. I just miss my hometown!

  9. Mark Boggs says:

    Without a doubt. Born in Des Moines, IA, lived there for the better part of 30 years and have spent the last ten in Utah, half northern and the last five southern. Every time I go back to Iowa, especially in the summer, I’m astounded that more than 6 people live east of the Rockies. And manage to survive.

  10. James Hanley says:

    Lance–It’s about 3 hours to Lake Michigan from my house. But at least that means we don’t get lake effect snows in winter.

    Pierre–True, Denver’s no Chicago, but I grew up in a farm town of 1,300 people.. My current town has 20,000 people, and most of them seem to serve no purpose but to annoy me when I’m driving. I spent September through December once near Colorado Springs. A lovely place except that it’s dominated by right wingers.

    Mark–That’s pretty much my experience. I do love the Midwest still, having grown up in Indiana, but the Mountain West is where I truly would like to be.

  11. Lance says:

    Lance–It’s about 3 hours to Lake Michigan from my house. But at least that means we don’t get lake effect snows in winter.

    Jesus Christ, I live in Carmel Indiana, just north of Indianapolis, and it’s only 2 1/2 hours away.

    Are you closer to Lake Huron? It has some great beaches as well.

    Oh, and what about that move to Addis Ababa? I could teach you enough Amharic to get you started.

  12. James Hanley says:

    Lance, We’re actually closest to Lake Erie. There’s a nice little beach with a view of Detroit Edison Power Plants to the north and south.

    Addis Ababa, I’d love to visit. But too many people to live there long-term. Still, teaching there for a year or two would probably be a great experience.

  13. Lance says:


    Lake Erie is warmer than the often frigid, even in July, Lake Michigan.

    I’m certain you would enjoy a year in Addis Ababa. The climate is ideal but it is far down the list of reasons I enjoy being in Addis. The culture is so different than our own that it is like being on another planet. It is an ancient society even though Addis Ababa is, by Ethiopian standards, a “new” city. It was established as the new capital city in the late eighteen hundreds when the emperor Menelik’s II wife Empress Taytu Betul chose the location for its perfect climate, scenic beauty and central location.

    While I can’t claim to have visited every culture on the planet I can say that the people of Ethiopia are the most gracious and hospitable that I have encountered. Their “prime directive” (to use a Star Trek term) is respect for strangers and travelers. The word engeda roughly translates to stranger but it is a term of deep respect for Ethiopians.

    I have often been lavished with special meals and great courtesy by people that live in what we would consider extreme poverty. I used to try to decline the offers but I have learned that to refuse their hospitality would be an insult.

    Even though Ethiopia is poor by western standards the people have a simple dignity and sense of worth that transcends the shabbiness of their often humble homes and possessions. They also are profoundly proud of their country’s historical importance and have a positive spirit that is shared throughout their society.

    The word that came to my mind after several visits to Ethiopia was “guileless”. That’s not to say that there aren’t sneaky underhanded Ethiopians, they are human after all, but I have met damn few of them.

    I have been back for about three months and I miss the place. Of course not as much as my wife does.

  14. Lance says:

    Oops, booted the tag.

  15. D. C. Sessions says:

    Well, if you’re a bit more flexible on the subject of temperature at low humidity (95F with dew points in the 50F range [1]) and aren’t fanatical about the lows (20F rule is good for all but a few days each winter) then you should be good for most of the mountain Southwest. Taos and Santa Fe are a bit cooler in the summer, Albuquerque and Socorro are a bit warmer in the winter, Silver City is somewhere between, Grand Junction is a bit warmer but bunches drier, etc.

    Obviously along the Pacific coast is something else entirely. Pretty much anywhere along there would work; since you’ve lived in Eugene I don’t have to explain that.

    As for work, all of the places I’ve mentioned are university towns (although Santa Fe and Taos are branch campuses, they all have social science faculty.) You’d almost think I was keeping an eye out for social science openings in the West, wouldn’t you?

    [1] I have Socorro weather bookmarked; this is today’s.

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