Let me start by saying that if you are one of the people who like really hot temperatures combined with when it’s really humid out, you’re a special type of person and to each their own but that combination, for most people, is the less favored of the two options.
We have quite a dry climate along the Front Range, Plains and Western Slope of Colorado. In fact, many locations along the Front Range are considered to have a high desert climate. And we all know that it’s dry in the desert. Thankfully for us, that’s actually a good thing in this situation.
In weather, there is a term known as the “heat index” and that term is used to describe the temperature that you will feel on your skin when you step outside. To equate the heat index, you combine the temperature with the amount of moisture that is in the air. The metric used to measure the moisture in the air is known as “relative humidity.”
So, temperature + relative humidity = heat index…but with a lot more math.
As you know from the amount of lotion and chap stick you have to put on here you know that there is usually not a lot of moisture in the air. That is because of the lack of any large-scale water sources around (like near the Great Lakes or near the ocean).
Something else you’ve probably noticed about our weather here in Colorado is that we get wild temperature swings at times. A desert landscape warms up very quickly, but it also cools off very quickly. In the summertime when the sun in directly above us and we have clear bluebird days, temperatures can easily soar into the 90s and 100s but the actual ‘feels-like’ temperature when you walk outside may only feel like the 80s or 90s.
Here’s an example: Say in June, we have a day where the high temperature is 98-degrees. The relative humidity that day is 18 percent (which is normal for our area). The actual temperature that you will feel when you go outside would be 94 degrees.
Now, let’s talk about New Orleans. Say in July, they have a day where the high temperature is 98 degrees. The relative humidity near the coast that day is 60 percent. The actual temperature that people will feel in The Big Easy will be between 110 and 120 degrees!
The body cools itself by sweating. Here in Colorado, since it is dry outside, when we sweat, most of the time it evaporates allowing for heat to be released and thus cooling us off. In New Orleans, because the air is so moist, when you sweat, it doesn’t evaporate easily which leaves you hot and sticky most of the day.
If your body struggles to regulate its temperature, you may experience a heat cramps or heat exhaustion or in a serious case, a heat stroke. All of these symptoms come as a result of the body not being able to regulate its temperature. And yes, the National Weather Service will alert you when temperatures get to a dangerous level.
Heat advisories, excessive heat watches and excessive heat warnings are issued when temperatures are high enough to affect people if they’re working outside or if they are part of a temperature sensitive group. All-in-all, the heat that we feel here in Colorado could be much worse. We could have humidity.
Fun Fact. It’s been almost 12 years since Denver’s National Weather Service office has issued a heat advisory.
Here is a chart to find out what your heat index is based on your temperature and relative humidity.