There is currently a record heat wave gripping much of the southern United States.
“More than 90 million people are under heat alerts after the heat dome expanded into places like California, which is now experiencing its first extreme heat wave of the year,” reads an article by Eric Zerkel for CNN.
Certain cities, like Phoenix, have been hit particularly hard by the hit, Zerkel notes.
“It has already been dangerously hot for weeks in Texas, Florida and Arizona, where Phoenix is in the middle of a likely record-breaking streak of consecutive 110-degree days, forcing many businesses and parks to close or readjust their hours,” the author explains.
This heat is having some strange consequences. One of those consequences, according to TikTok user Sierra (@sierraramos825), is that one’s tail light can simply melt off of their car.
In a video with over 263,000 views, Sierra shows a tail light that appears to have melted.
“Guys, the light is melting,” she says in the video. In the caption, she adds, “Crazy it was 131 degrees outside.”
@sierraramos825 Crazy it was 131 degrees outside 😱#foryoupage #fyp #fypシ゚viral #melting #131degrees ♬ original sound – Sierra Ramos
In the comments section, viewers expressed their weariness of the heat.
“This sun is definitely angry this year,” wrote one user. “It’s ridiculous here in ca. it went from being cool and cloudy to just burning up.”
“We had our 110F in San Jose, CA, last Sept. Probably will be same this year. My said it was 119F, and we had blackout for 8hrs,” offered another. “I feel ya.”
“The sun just melting the city objects away,” stated a third.
But did the sun alone truly melt Sierra’s tail light?
It’s unlikely. A 2021 article in USA Today noted that, following a previous heat wave in Arizona, many pictures went viral showing what was purported to be items melting due to the heat. The article says that the melting was likely due to other factors such as nearby fires or other forms of weather exposure.
In Sierra’s specific case, tail lights are made of a polycarbonate material. While there are a variety of available polycarbonates, a typical polycarbonate will not melt until it reaches at least 550 degrees Fahrenheit—making it all but impossible that the heat alone caused Sierra’s tail light to melt.
As some commenters noted, if the heat was truly causing tail lights to melt, more people in the city would have experienced it.
“My cars have sat out in 122 in Phoenix and nothing has melted on or off,” observed a commenter.
“how? lived here my whole life and never seen that,” echoed a second.
There are a few things that could have caused Sierra’s tail light to melt. There could have been an electrical issue within the light that caused a small fire, which could produce enough heat to melt the light.
Additionally, and more likely, a nearby reflection could have focused the sun’s light onto a specific part of her tail light and caused it to heat up.
In 2010, the U.S. Army built a solar furnace that focused the sun’s energy onto a single spot. Using carefully placed mirrors, the furnace focused the sun’s rays onto a point that reached up to 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Naturally, this focusing of the sun’s energy can also happen accidentally. After the famous “Walkie-Talkie” building was erected in London in 2013, automobile owners complained that the building’s glass exterior focused the sun onto their drives—melting parts of their cars in the process.
Back on TikTok, users made jokes about the state of Sierra’s car.
“Why did I immediately think that is melted wings and buffalo sauce,” questioned a user.
“Ngl thought it was a flamin hot grilled cheese,” shared an additional commenter.
The Daily Dot reached out to Sierra via Instagram direct message.