BUFFALO, N.Y. — It's been a hot, humid week in Western New York. Temperatures haven't hit record highs, but the extra moisture in the air has made things much less comfortable.
We tend to talk a lot about the “dew point” in these kinds of weather patterns. By definition, it’s the temperature that the air would have to drop to in order to be saturated with water vapor.
The dew point is a pretty good metric for figuring out whether a heat wave will be tolerable or just plain stifling. Western New York locals tend to start noticing a touch of humidity when the dew point reaches 60 degrees. It’s borderline tropical if that number hits 70.
It’s not at all unusual for the dew point to be in the 60s many days during the summer months. But Buffalo has been in some truely rarified sultry air before. The highest dew point on record for the Buffalo airport is an incredible 79 degrees. Even Floridians would have something to say about that!
Speaking of Florida, you may think that state holds the record for the highest dew point in the United States. That would be a very reasonable assumption. It’s hot and humid there pretty much year-round.
But Florida is surrounded by ocean, and just like how Lake Erie keeps Buffalo from getting too hot, the Atlantic keeps the Florida Peninsula from running away with ridiculous heat. You need that really hot air in order to achieve record dew points because the dew point can never be higher than the temperature.
So where was the United States' highest dew point recorded? Think north. WAY north. Northern Minnesota north. A weather historian in Moorhead, Minnesota recorded a dew point of 88 degrees on July 19, 2011. The dew point at the Minneapolis Airport, about 200 miles away, was 82 that same day.
Watch this week’s Heather’s Weather Whys to see what has to come together to reach such astronomical humidity levels in this week’s episode of Heather’s Weather Whys.
New episodes of Heather’s Weather Whys are posted to the WGRZ YouTube channel every Wednesday evening.