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WeatherTalk: Hot weather does not cause sunburn

A sunburn is just as likely in temperatures below zero as in temperatures near 100 degrees.

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FARGO — The hot weather Sunday probably brought out a lot of sunscreen, and with good reason. Skin cancer is a real and serious threat from long-term sun exposure. Not only that, a sunburn can be painful. Many people associate hot weather with sunburn risk, but the risk of sunburn has nothing to do with temperature. Although it seems counter-intuitive, a sunburn is just as likely in temperatures below zero as in temperatures near 100 degrees.

It isn't the temperature that damages your skin. Your skin does not burn at 100 degrees or even 150 degrees. It is within the ultraviolet wavelengths of sunlight where the rays which cause sunburn and skin cancer occur, and these rays are always a part of the solar light spectrum. The longer summer days and higher sun angle do increase the exposure, but it is mostly our tendency to wear less clothing and spend more time outside in warm weather that makes summer the sunburn season.

Related Topics: WEATHER
John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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