Breaking News
More () »

Summer 2021: it most definitely is the humidity

We've had plenty of hot days this summer, but near-record humidity has made for a sultry couple of months.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Fans of the show "Friends" know the "it's the humidity!" line well. In the scene quoted, Monica is having quite the bad hair day and blames it on the apparent mugginess that day in New York City. 

We've all had a lot of those days here in Western New York this summer, and there's plenty of data to show that this may well be one of Buffalo's most humid summers on record. 

One way to measure humidity is the dew point temperature. We often show it during a weather forecast because it's a good way to quantify just how uncomfortable the air feels. Typically a dew point of 60 degrees is just starting to feel humid. A dew point of 65 will be kind of uncomfortable and a dew point reaching 70 or higher is tropical.

Since June 1, the first day of meteorological summer, 31 days have had a dew point temperature of at least 70 degrees. A closer look at observations shows that August of 2021 is likely the most humid since at least 1943, with more than 200 hours with a dew point of at least 70 degrees.

High humidity and uncomfortably warm nights go hand-in-hand. That's because air with a higher humidity has more water vapor than air with lower humidity. The more water vapor the air is holding, the slower it cools at night.

As of August 30th, 24 nights have stayed in the 70s at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, tying Buffalo's record for any year of 24 nights set back in 2016. 

There's evidence to show that Buffalo's nights are not just getting warmer, but also getting warmer at a faster rate in recent decades. Between 1970 and 2020, Buffalo average summer nighttime low has risen 2.7 degrees, according to climate change research group Climate Central. Just two years ago, data ending in 2018 showed that rate of overnight warming was at 2.4 degrees.

Credit: Climate Central

The really intense heat and humidity has mercifully backed off. It seems that at least this year, Mother Nature is getting the hint that fall is just around the corner.

Before You Leave, Check This Out