Why does humidity makes it feel hotter?


I’m from the caribbean and my family loves the heat a lot more than the cold. I have trouble explaining living in the home country why NYC summer feels a lot worse than a very hot day over there due to the humidity here. Thus i enjoy winter far more here.


What you feel when you are hot or cold is not actually temperature, but the flow of thermal energy towards or away from your body.

Have you ever noticed how you are able to touch a sheet of tin foil directly from the oven, even if the oven is at 250°C?

While the tin foil really is at that temperature, aluminium stores very little thermal energy. Thus the flow of thermal energy towards your hand is extremely small, despite the large difference in temperature.

Why am I talking about tin foil? Because water stores exceptionally large quantities of thermal temperature. Thus, a pot of water at 100°C stores more thermal energy than the same amount of air at equal temperature.

When the air is humid, that is, when there is more water vapor, the air contains more thermal energy than dry air of the same temperature would have. Which is why you feel hotter in warm humid air than in warm dry air.

Humidity only makes it feel hotter when it’s hot. High humidity in the cold makes it feel colder. The reason for this is the amount of water vapor in the air thickens the air, almost like causing it to hug you. Because water molecules transfer heat and cold better than air molecules, the ambient temperature has a feeling of being magnified. Thurs feeling hotter in the hot and colder in the cold.

Your body regulates its heat in warm weather primarily through sweating. What happens is that your body excretes sweat, which then evaporates. As it does this, it takes some of your body heat with it, cooling your body overall.

In humid weather, the air is saturated with water vapor already. This actually slows the process of evaporation, which means your body will retain more heat for longer.

Water, saturation, and everything hot. These were the Ingredients chosen to create the perfect little world, but professor G accidentally added a secret ingredient to the concoction: Location.