• Why is it always hotter in downtown Pittsburgh? It's called the heat island effect

    By: Scott Harbaugh

    Updated:

    PITTSBURGH - Ever travel into downtown Pittsburgh and think, "Wow, it feels even hotter here than it did at home?"  It's not your imagination.  It usually is hotter, especially on dry, sunny days.

    It's called the "Heat Island Effect".  The temperature downtown can often be three to seven degrees warmer in the city than in the suburbs. The two main reasons are the buildings, which trap solar radiation and help build heat in the city, and the lack of vegetation in the city means less evaporation from plants and trees.  

    That lack of evaporation means less cooling ability for the air just above the surface.

    The end result is the sweat factor in the city is often higher than it is in your own backyard.

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