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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

It's All Relative

Humidity, that is.

And, actually, relative humidity is not a great indicator of how much moisture is in the air -- a better indicator of that is dew point (which I have discussed extensively in the past, but I probably am most concise about it in this post) -- but the title is more fitting to my general theme here today.

As most of you know, or are experiencing, it's friggin' hot out there right now for most of the country -- particularly the northeast, which is getting blanketed in sweltering temps. Since I live in FL and run in hot, humid weather on a regular basis, I can't help but compare heats. It's kind of a sadistic thing to do, but ever since I became a runner 5 years ago, I am an enthusiastic meterology student and I often compare the weather here in FL to weather elsewhere. You know. Just to see.

So, reading blogs this morning, I saw that many of you in the northeast are sweating like you're on the threshold of hell, so I figured I'd take a look at your weather. Washington, DC makes a good comparison because even though temps are varied on the NE seaboard, DC's current weather is an average of the temps. Anyhoo...in DC today, it is an awful 100 degrees. Yuck. Here in South Florida, it is 94. A little cooler. But...when we examine the two locale's differences in humidity, and particularly dew point, we see how these two heats are different kinds of hot.

In DC, the current (it's 1:30 pm as I type this) humidity is 30%. In South Florida, it is 61%. And dew point? In DC, it is 62 degrees; in FL, 72 degrees. 10 degrees doesn't seem like a whole lot, but when it is in regards to dew point, it is a HUGE difference because of how humans perceive comfort within such humidity.

Now, for other comparisons: Atlanta is a gawd awfully humid place, right? Yes, it is. Their current temp is 87, with 44% humidity. But the dew point? Same as DC's. And that's pretty consistent throughout the southeast. We all know Phoenix is hot, but it's a "dry heat" right? Yes, very, very dry: Only 14% humidity with a dew point of 39! (I think my hair would be very static-y in AZ!)

So, who has just as wet, if not sometimes wetter, heat than what we have here in the good ole swamp? Texas! My friends in Houston are swimming (I mean "running") in the same humid conditions as we are here in FL: They are currently experiencing the delightful humidity of 58% and a dewpoint of 73.

What's the point of all this comparison? Nothing, really. And I'm certainly not trying to belittle anyone's complaints about the heat because once the mercury hits triple digits, it's H-O-T no matter what, but if there's a HOT contest, and Satan is judging, I think it'd be a tie between TX and FL. Which I suppose makes all of us who run in such weather a bit C-R-A-Z-Y!

23 comments:

ajh said...

All I can say is I don't know how you run in this on a regular basis. Or do anything!

kelsalynn said...

I agree w/you- humidity makes the world of difference. I love AZ and 115 is hot, but I'd rather have 115 in AZ than 100 on the east coast- FO-SHIZZLE! :)

Lily on the Road said...

It is all relative, and considering we only get bombed like this once in awhile for only a week, it does take some getting use to, just like the frigid temps in the winter.

Currently it is 93(F) or 34(C) in Ottawa with relative humidity at 50% making it feel like 111.

I'm LOVING IT!!!

Marlene said...

You are the weather guru! I find all of this interesting and I've never really considered the dew point to be such an important factor. Thanks for the explanation!

For the record, the dew point for my run at 5AM this morning (just looked it up) was 21C which is 70F, and falls under the "Very humid, quite unfomfortable" ... definitely accurate!

Us Canucks are not built for this weather! I don't know how you do it regularly.

Wes said...

It was nice enough for Dee Dee and I to have dinner on the patio last night. Temps are rising this week though!!

shellyrm aka jogging stroller mama said...

Now I feel bad for complaining about the heat here even though it is to be 100+!!

It is odd when we are in VA, I do notice that the "heat" is different than in PA. I usually mind it less in VA but I am also MUCH better about drinking during my runs in VA than I am in PA. Hydration must play a factor on how hot it feels.

TNTcoach Ken said...

Wow Professor, I sure learned a lot in class today...... Will there be a test????? HA

Jess said...

Humidity is only 30% here?!? With a dew point of 62? I don't believe it lol. It feels so much nastier out there.

Adam said...

Spot on. It was 91 at 5:30am for my sat run but the humidity was 9%. So, the 'feels like' temp was actually like 10 degrees below that.

I'm slowly getting spoiled by the dry heat. Humidity kills me now!!

Adam said...

ha - sorry, I'm in PHX :)

Jamoosh said...

I don't mind the humidity so much once I acclimate. Some mornings when jogging by a field I experience the pool of humidity phenomenon where I run into an additional wall of humidity (thick air). Those kinda suck depending on my level of soakage.

lifestudent said...

This is why we are heading to CA instead of FL on vacation! You guys can have your humidity to yourselves ;)

The Jogger Blogger said...

So, I'm not just being a wimp for whining about the awful conditions?! I am in the Houston area too, but I am new to running so I just thought I was supposed to be this miserable!

teacherwoman said...

That humidy and dew point plays a huge roll, that's fo sho!
I can't complain here... 69 degrees and the humidity is in the 50 percent range, only.

Heather said...

I know I can't complain about it being hot, especially because I complain all winter about it being so freaking cold, but it is so hot right now!

Lucy K said...

I have to agree with you since I live in Houston. I have made an effort to get out in the heat more since I know that other people like you don't use the heat as an excuse. I am definitely "swimming" when I complete my run!

X-Country2 said...

No love for Nebraska in your research? We LOVE bitching about the weather. I think we'd at least beat DC. :o)

Firefly's Running said...

It was just plain HOT. Period!

P said...

That was a really interesting post - I've never given humidity much thought, living in the dry heat of central California. I love to learn new things, and I definitely like the reminder to appreciate my local running weather!

Laura said...

I'm in TX and since you taught me about dew point I looked ours up after my 5K this evening. It was 88* with a dew point of 74*. Feels like 97. OMG it's hot and sticky!

BrianFlash said...

90 degrees, 60% humidity seems pretty much normal here in St. Louis. So, unfortunately, we are in the running with Florida and Texas...

sRod said...

Can I get bonus dew points (ha, get it?) for the massive heat retention by all the buildings and asphalt in NYC?

Stuart said...

Just catching up and realizing how mild a summer we're having!