(WFRV): During the summer months here in Northeast Wisconsin, meteorologists often mention dew point. Most people often wonder what is dew point and what is the difference between dew point and relative humidity?
In short, dew point is the temperature the air needs to be cooled in order for relative humidity to be 100 percent. This means that dew point is the temperature at which the air cannot hold water in the gas form. Dew point cannot be greater than air temperature.
Relative humidity is the amount of moisture in the atmosphere compared to air around it. The issue is warm air in summer months can hold more water vapor, so relative humidity gives a skewed sense of how humid it is outside when cooler temperatures are present. Water vapor must turn into the liquid form which produces precipitation when relative humidity is 100 percent.
Dew point is the direct measure of the amount of moisture in the atmosphere. This is the preferred measurement for meteorologists over relative humidity. Therefore, the amount of moisture or dew point, correlates to how people feel walking outside. Here are the general descriptions of what dew points feels like at each dew point temperature:
For example, the winter can have an air temperature of 25 degrees Fahrenheit and a dew point of 25 degrees Fahrenheit and the relative humidity would be 100 percent which would be conducive for snowfall. However, the air would not feel humid despite the relative humidity being so high due to low amounts of water vapor present in the air.
On the reverse side, in the summer it can be, 95 degrees Fahrenheit with a 70 degree Fahrenheit dew point and more moisture would be in the atmosphere even though the relative humidity would be under 50 percent. As a result, the average person would think it is muggy outside.
Dew points and relative humidity each serve a separate roll in providing information for meteorologists. High dew points in the summer time can fuel thunderstorms, when severe weather hits be sure to stick with Storm Team 5 on-air, online, and on our app:
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