Humidity is a term thrown around a lot by the KBTX Weather Team, especially during the summer months. A basic definition for the word, according to the National Weather Service, is a measure of water content in the air. It doesn’t sound like anything that we need to keep track of, yet here in Texas we talk about this word a lot.
We talk about humidity levels quite a bit in this part of Texas because it affects the heat index, or the ‘feels like’ temperature of the air. It is the reason why temperatures can be in the 90s though feels like it is in the 100s! It is also the reason why it can feel dry and not as hot as other areas that are closer to the coast.
Low humidity values are considered to be in the single digits, teens and the 20s percentile ranges. Weather conditions with these values include a ‘drier’ kind of heat because of the lack of water in the air. Areas that are more affected by lower humidity are located away from bodies of water. A prime example of a drier region of Texas is Amarillo and the rest of the Texas panhandle.
The range of high humidity values can vary depending on the weather conditions occurring. Typically, it can range from about 50% to 100%. Here in the Brazos Valley, we have been saying humidity values in the upper 30s to 40s are high. The reason for that is because our heat index values have increased dramatically in response to the humidity. When we see the ‘feels like’ temperature reach a full 10 degrees above what the actual air temperature is, we consider the humidity to be high.
What can change humidity values? The dry line, which is an invisible line that separates dry air from more moist air, can decrease humidity values dramatically if it moves into an area. Being closer to a body of water brings up humidity while being in a land-locked place decreases humidity. When it rains, it increases the humidity temporary since rain water is introduced into the air, increasing moisture.
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