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So you're driving down the street on a hot summer day. You pull up to the stoplight in a line of traffic. Your air conditioner is cranked as you try to find some relief from the sun. You look down at your dash and the display shows that it's 93 degrees, but you look up at one of the local banks and it says it's 97. As you pull forward with the flow of traffic you see another bank sign and it's showing the temperature at 98 degrees. Which one is right?

I think it's about time all these thermometers get on the same page! You know it's hot  but how hot is it? According to an article from, Meteorologist Paul Trembley aka Professor Paul says you have to see how the ambient air (atmospheric air in its natural state) is measured.

First off, remember the bank thermometers are sitting out in the direct sunlight and around paved areas so most likely you're going to see higher temps on these readings. The measuring of ambient air involves a few things-

  • The temperature measuring instrument should be set up in a fairly level region with vegetation or sod below
  • It should be at least 100 feet away from any paved surface
  • It should not not receive any direct sunlight so the instrument should be shaded
  •  The instrument should be inside a wooden box that is painted white and has some holes for ventilation

At at least three radio stations where I have worked over the years, we had these boxes from the National Weather Service. You could get a true ambient air temperature reading. So most likely when you hear what the temperature is from a weather source, i.e., a radio station, it most likely is using a reading that is from a reliable source.

KEEP READING: Get answers to 51 of the most frequently asked weather questions...

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