From June 18 to 20, five NESCAC colleges — six if we round up — experienced a true heat wave with three consecutive days of 90-degree-plus temperatures.

In the spirit of that definition, we’ll use the sum total of degrees during the three days for this edition of our occasional ranking of NESCAC colleges on very cold or very hot days.

Lyrically and meteorologically, the late Glenn Frey hinted as what causes a heat wave with his 1984 hit, “The Heat Is On.”

“The heat is on,” he sang, adding, “the pressure’s high.” Exactly, Glenn! A high pressure system can lead to the kind of very hot weather all of us is ‘Cactown felt this week.

Bobcats can and do swim, but typically will lay low when it’s very hot. (Photograph by Portlande)

High pressure is partly defined by sinking air. And all across the ‘Cac, the sinking air underneath our resident high pressure dome got hotter as it became compressed by the high atmospheric pressure close to the Earth’s surface. It’s called “adiabatic warming,” the same phenomenon that creates warm to hot Santa Ana and Chinooks winds in the West.

Coolest to warmest, here’s our NESCAC Heat Poll for June 18–20. The coolest customers were close to the prevailing south wind coming off the Atlantic Ocean; the hottest is within an urban heat island.

For each college, the three-day total of degrees is followed by the high temperature on June 18, 19, and 20.

11. Connecticut College: 262.1 degrees (85.6 – 86.7 – 89.8)

How their mascot beats the heat: Camels use thick fur as insulation.

Conn College color

10. Wesleyan: 270.2 degrees (88.2 – 89.2 – 92.8)

How their mascot beats the heat: Cardinals seek shade, pant, bath, and hold their wings away from their bodies to increase airflow.


9. Middlebury: 270.8 degrees (90.7 –90.5 – 89.6)

How their mascot beats the heat: Panthers seek shade during heat of the day.

middlebury logo

8. Bowdoin: 273.4 degrees (88.2 – 90.6 – 94.6)

How their mascot beats the heat: Polar bears swim in cold water and seek shade.


7. Colby: 275.6 degrees (88.7 – 94.0 – 92.9)

How their mascot beats the heat: Mules seek shade, sweat, may roll in mud or water.


6. Trinity: 276.8 degrees (89.1 – 92.3 – 95.4)

How their mascot beats the heat: Bantams seek shade, pant, spread wings to increase airflow.


5. Hamilton: 278.9 degrees (95.0 – 91.8 — 92.1)

How their mascot beats the heat: Alexander Hamilton fought the British in the Battle of Monmouth on June 28, 1779, in temperatures near 100 degrees, and it’s said that Continentals were allowed to remove their uniforms.

4. Williams: 281.7 degrees (93.3 – 94.7 – 93.7) (at the college)

How their mascot beats the heat: Cows seek shade, reduce their activity, sweat.

3. Amherst: 284.6 degrees (95.0 – 95.6 – 94.0) (at the college)

How their mascot beats the heat: Uncertain what mammoths did, probably rarely encountering blistering heat.

2. Bates: 289.3 degrees (92.1 – 98.5 – 98.7)

How our mascot beats the heat: Bobcats rest in shaded, cool areas during the heat of the day.


1. Tufts: 298.2 degrees (98.8 – 99.0 – 100.4) (at the university)

How their mascot beats the heat: Elephants flap ears and take mud and water baths; plus, their permeable skin helps them stay cool.


Temperatures are taken from Weather Underground reporting stations at or close to each campus. On-campus reporting stations are noted.