SYRACUSE, NY (WSYR-TV)– Tuesday was not the warmest day of 2021 so far in Central New York, but you may have noticed something different in the air: It felt muggy!
There was enough moisture in the air to push our dew points to 60 degrees.
Why is dew point a better way to measure moisture than relative humidity? It’s because the humidity is just that: ‘relative’. It just means that it depends on the temperature.
Take a winter day during the middle of a snowstorm when the humidity is 100 percent, and compare it to a warm summer day where the temperature is 90 degrees and the humidity is 55 percent. It is the summer day that has four times the moisture in the atmosphere than the winter day with 100 percent humidity.
Think of dew point this way. We use air temperature to measure how warm or cold the air is while dew point temperature is a way measure how moist or dry the air is. In the case of dew point, the higher that number, the more moisture in the air and the more uncomfortable it feels. It really doesn’t matter what the temperature is.
A good rule of thumb for most Central New Yorkers is you start to notice it feeling humid with a dew point around 60 degrees, it gets muggy past 65 and once you go beyond 70 it begins to feel tropical or oppressive.
The dew points drop Wednesday so that mugginess departs, and it will be a while before they return.
So when you see the Storm Team pull out the dew point maps and forecasts heading into summer, you’ll have a better idea of how it will impact you.