It's Not The Heat, It's The Dew Point

By: Bob Trihy
By: Bob Trihy

There is a lot of truth to this statement. The dew point temperature along with the air temperature is an important factor on how you feel. Dew point temperatures are a better way to measure overall comfort.

We've all heard the old saying, "it's not the heat, it's the humidity". This is very true. Especially in the South this time of year. When the humidity is high, along with the temperatures, it's can make for miserable conditions. You know what I'm talking about with the weather we've been seeing lately. When we talk about humidity, it's easier to talk in terms in dew point temperatures. For example, dew point temperatures in the 40s and 50s is very comfortable. When you get into the 60s, it starts feeling sticky. And when you get over 70, it feels like the jungle. So lately we've been seeing temperatures in the 80s, with dew point in the lower 70s. One word. Miserable. But you take a temperature, say around 80 degrees, and dew point temperatures in the 40s and 50s, you can actually live with a fan without the a/c because the dry air makes it comfortable. When the dew point temperatures are low, it gives your body the ability to cool easily. When you sweat, it dries quickly, making you feel cooler. When you sweat with dew point temperatures in the 70s, your sweat can't evaporate, so you can't cool. That's why it feels nasty.

I was spoiled living in Colorado and Wyoming, where it was so dry, that when it did get hot, it wasn't bad at all bad because the humidity was so low. I traveled through Phoenix a couple of times, and it wasn't a dry heat, the day I was there. It was 95 and humid because of some showers. But most of the time, when it's 110 degrees, the humidity is around 10%.

It is rare to see dew point temperatures in the 40s and 50s in Eastern Carolina. So we'll have to live with high dew point temperatures for some time to come. After all it is summer time.

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