Talk of triple-digit temps creates tweet wave on Twitter
Forecasts of triple-digit temperatures in a city where only 13 percent of homes have air conditioning are dominating conversations around Seattle and online.
Seattle Times staff reporter
It's an old conversation using new media: A sweaty Seattleite uses Twitter to complain about blazing temps, some smart-mouthed Southerner returns a virtual eye roll and the Seattleite blasts back that it's not the heat — it's the lack of air conditioning.
This week, Seattleites might be on to something.
Weather experts are predicting a five-day heat wave, with peak temperatures that could break Seattle's record of 100 degrees.
Triple-digit temps in a city where only 13 percent of homes have air conditioning are dominating conversations, around Seattle and online. Early Monday, a Twitter user in Kent created the term "SeaScorcher" to describe the heat wave.
"Twitter is where the conversation is happening, definitely," said Peter Chee, founder of Redmond-based Think Space, which provides shared office space to telecommuters,
Chee announced on Twitter and his blog that he'd give entrepreneurs free air-conditioned space this week so they could find a place to "beat the heat" as they work. While no one took Chee up on his offer Monday, he said several people are responding to his message, passing along the info and planning to stop by this week.
"People are definitely going to take me up on Wednesday," Chee said. The National Weather Service predicts a high temperature of 99 degrees Wednesday, just one degree below the record.
"Even people on the Seattle side say they are coming."
Making the Twitter rounds is a forecasting program called Probcast, a weather-predicting Web application developed by researchers in the University of Washington's departments of atmospheric science, statistics and psychology.
The National Weather Service uses Probcast to make forecasts, but it's format was designed by UW psychologists to be accessible to the public.
Probcast users can plug their location into the system to access current temperatures, highs and lows.
"This is its strength — getting the high temperatures," said Clifford Mass, UW professor of atmospheric science. "This is the big test, because we're going to temperatures that have never been observed before."
Mass said Probcast presents a "whole other paradigm of forecasting," one in which temperatures are assessed by their probability rather than simply predicted.
Mass said he's not surprised a weather-service tool designed to assess temperature probability is gaining popularity.
"People really like extreme weather," he said. "It's both science and religion to people."
Lindsay Toler: 206-464-2463 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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