What Exactly is the Heat Index?

By: Crystal Ploehn Email
By: Crystal Ploehn Email

If you watch the weather during the summer months, you know that the KBTX weather team has been saying the phrase ‘heat index’ pretty much every single day. When looking at a heat index map, it can get confusing because there are a bunch of temperatures that are different from the normal temperature. The question is, what does ‘heat index’ mean?

When you step outside, it is very rare for it to feel like the actual air temperature and not hotter or colder. That is because a ton of different factors come into play when it comes to air temperature. Being closer to the Gulf of Mexico, winds that come out of that direction bring in more humid air. When the humidity mixes in with the air already here, it increases the water content of the atmosphere. A high water content in the atmosphere makes it feel muggy and sticky outside, which creates a need for the heat index value.

The heat index is the ‘feels like’ temperature outside when you factor in the humidity, or water content, in the atmosphere. Even if the air temperature doesn’t reach 100 degrees, if the heat index is 100, hot weather precautions need to be taken.

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