How Cities Make Their Own Weather

When Houston is hit by a sudden storm, the city may be partly to blame. Increasingly, urban centers don't merely endure bad weather; they help create it. Researchers believe the phenomenon may be more common now than ever before.

Scientists have known for 200 years that the temperature in a city can be higher than that in its environs--something they learned when an amateur weather watcher detected a 1.58°F temperature difference between London and its suburbs. Modern cities, with their cars and heat-trapping buildings, can create an even bigger temperature gap, sometimes as much as 10°F.

Islands of urban heat...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!