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Weather Academy: Is it hot enough to bake cookies in a car?

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 6:11 AM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Here in the ArkLaMiss, we are no stranger to heat, especially in the summertime when temperatures can get downright toasty. We all know how warm the inside of a car can feel when you get into it during a nice summer afternoon. But why do the interior of cars warm up so quickly, and how hot does it actually get?

Let’s say it’s 70 degrees outside. That means inside of the car, our air temperature can reach 90 degrees in a matter of only 10 minutes. By about 30 minutes, we’re sitting closer towards 104.

The temperature inside a car over an hour period when the air temperature is 70 degrees.
The temperature inside a car over an hour period when the air temperature is 70 degrees.(KNOE)

An average summer day during July in the ArkLaMiss is around 95 degrees. That means that the temperatures inside of the car can become dangerous in only a matter of minutes. Within 10 minutes for the temperature inside of a car to reach 114 degrees. And within 30 minutes, we’re looking towards 129 degrees. After about an hour, the inside of that car is like an oven with temperatures around 133 degrees.

The temperature inside a car over an hour period when the air temperature is 95 degrees.
The temperature inside a car over an hour period when the air temperature is 95 degrees.(KNOE)

This happens because the air trapped in the car heats up faster than the air outside. It’s similar to what happens inside a greenhouse. The sunlight moves through the car’s windows and causes the air inside of the car to heat up. The air is then trapped in the car, getting hotter and hotter the longer it sits in the sun.

To test this, we decided to bake cookies on the dashboard of a car. The air temperature at the time of our experiment was 91 degrees, and we let them bake for four hours. Cloud cover can affect how quickly the cookies bake because it puts a bit of a damper on the heat in the car. Even though the cookies may not be baked all the way through, the heat levels in this car are still more than dangerous.

After four hours, the cookies were mostly cooked! They were on the gooey side but they definitely baked as the temperature on the dashboard was well above 150 degrees.

If you do try this experiment at home, share your pictures with us! Also, let us know what weather or science questions you have, and we will try to answer them in future Weather Academy episodes.

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