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Weather Talk: Most people mistaken on how humidity’s quantified

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Weather Talk: Most people mistaken on how humidity’s quantified
Fargo ND 101 5th Street North 58102

Everybody knows about humidity in the summertime.  But most people are mistaken about how humidity is quantified. 

Relative humidity is expressed as a percentage. But it is not a percentage of water vapor in the air. The percentage of water vapor in the air is very, very small – usually around 1 to 3 percent. So it is useless to use this as a gauge. Instead, relative humidity can be expressed as a percentage of saturation. But people are usually not aware that this percentage of saturation is not the same as a percentage by volume.

Relative humidity is a reflection of water vapor and air temperature. Therefore 80 percent relative humidity on a cool day means something entirely different than on a hot day.

Meteorologists use the dew point temperature as a way to gauge humidity in terms of human discomfort. The higher the dew point, the more sticky people feel. Dew points in the 70s indicate sweltering summer humidity.

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