ELI5- what’s the difference between the temperature and the “real feel?”


Temperature is how hot/cold something is right?

So wouldn’t the real feel be the temperature in that area? For example How could a “real feel” in an area be 74°F but the actual temperature ends up being 80°F

In: 0

Perhaps it is best to start this answer with a little experiment.

Get a bowl of ice cold water, a bowl of warm water and a bowl of cool tap water.

Place one hand in the ice cold water, and the other in the warm water, and wait until both hands feel warm.

Now put both hands into the cool tap water.

What do you notice?

ANSWER: The hand in the ice water now feels hot, and the hand in the warm water now feels cold, despite both hands being in the same bowl of water. This is because your body is now accustomed to the ambient heat loss/gain from the hand, and now considers that normal. Then when you move your hand into the cool water, the hand in the icewater is now losing *less energy* so it feels hot, meanwhile the hand in the warm water is now losing *more energy* so it feels cold. Despite both hands being in the same bowl.

Therefore it can be concluded that the human body is extremely unreliable at accurately measuring temperature, as it can only measure in terms of hot and cold relative to the previous accustomed environment.

Let’s say it’s 80 degrees outside. One person is wearing a short sleeve shirt, and one person is wearing a winter coat. Will they both feel the same? The answer is no, because outside temperature isn’t the only thing that affects how you feel outside.

One of the most common things that makes you feel hotter is humidity. If it’s humid, your body can’t sweat as effectively. That keeps you from being able to cool down, making it feel hotter.

Another one is sunlight. Even if it’s 75 degrees, the energy from the sun can make you feel much hotter. It’s why roads can often be 100 degrees even when it’s 75 out: they absorb a lot of sunlight, and can’t get rid of the heat fast enough to keep cool. If it’s cloudy, it will feel less hot than if it’s sunny (even if the air is the same temperature).

Finally, wind. A breeze makes it easier to keep cool by replacing the air around you with fresh air. This makes it easier for your body to remove excess heat. If you have a computer, it often does the same thing by using a fan.

A combination of these factors will make it feel hotter or colder outside.

Temperatue is the average thermal energy of something.


The way we humans measure temperature is flawed. We measure heat, that being how much energy is being transfered to or from your body. Heat transfer depends both of the temperature difference, but also how well the materials conduct heat.

So something that transfers heat much better will feel hotter/colder than something that is isolating.

thanks everyone! I understand the difference now lol

Reel feel includes an adjustment for wind chill or humidity. We adjust for these because humans are warm blooded. That means they need to transfer heat to their environment constantly. Since both wind and humidity both impact how much heat is transferred to the environment, adjusting temperature for those conditions gives a more realistic picture of how one should dress for the day.