The heat is on in the "famously hot" city

By Taylor Kearns - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It seems the term "famously hot" isn't just a catchphrase for the Columbia area. There may be some scientific fact behind it, according to a USC professor.

If Columbia's train traffic doesn't leave you steaming, the summer heat will. Every year, it turns the Capital City into what feels like the devil's waffle iron.

Under the shade of the state farmer's market, you'll be saved from sunburn, but not the humidity.

Lou Bragg has been making her living at the market for the past three decades. "The last 3 days have been almost unbearable in the afternoons," she says.

A lot's changed since her beginnings, but the heat has hung around.

Her farmer's market neighbor, Ruby, thinks it's uniquely Columbia

"It's the coolest place in the winter time and the hottest place in the summer time," said Ruby.

Actually, the temperature difference between Columbia and other parts of the state varies on average by just a few degrees.

"We're stuck in the middle of everything," said Dr. Venkat Lakshmi, a USC professor.

Lakshmi says folks in areas like Charleston get the benefit of the ocean breeze. In Greenville, the altitude helps. But in Columbia, well, it's kind of like a big, sweaty crock pot.

"Here in Columbia, we have the worst of both worlds, in a sense that we have heat or high temperatures as well as we have high humidities," said Lakshmi.

Also, Columbia's mighty rivers of asphalt do a great job at shooting the heat back up at you. And if you're in town, there's a good chance you're on concrete.

"More greenery means a little bit of a cooler temperature," said Lakshmi.

It's a problem you'll find in many southern cities, but one Bragg says she prefers.

"I'll take the heat and the sweat, rather than shovel snow," said Bragg as she laughed.

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