Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Are Dewpoints Relevant?

I was having a discussion with someone yesterday about Dewpoints. Some spell it Dewpoint, some spell it Dew Point. I prefer one word, but that's not up for discussion today... I'm wondering if you think the dewpoint is important. Not only do I think the dewpoint is important, I think it is more important than the long-talked about "Relative Humidity".

The Relative Humidity (by definition) is relative to the temperature. It's actually pretty worthless to the viewer on a summer afternoon to measure how "muggy" it is by looking at that number alone. Dewpoints are not relative to the temperature, so they can stand alone in showing how "muggy" it is across an area. Anything over 60° on the dewpoint can be "felt" on a summer afternoon. 70°+ dewpoints are REALLY muggy.

Think back to HIGH NOON on the 4th of July last year. What were you doing? Was it muggy? What would you say the Relative Humidity was at Noon? Would you believe it was 53%? Most would say higher...The dewpoint was 69°. Makes more sense, right?

Now, let's look at the dewpoint in reference to storms and rainfall. We'll start by looking at the dewpoint this week in the above graph. Each line is a model interpretation of the dewpoint. Green line/dots represent the NWS forecast. As the dewpoint ramps up, the rain chances and mugginess goes up. Good sign of the atmosphere changing and shows "the juice" that is available for developing storms! Good thing to WATCH. Good thing to TRACK. It tells us and the viewers a lot!

So, here's my question. Is the dewpoint relevant to you and your life? Should I show it on-air? Should it never be shown because it's too "sciencey" and "geeky"? There are NO wrong answers. I'd love to hear your feedback! I plan to start a poll on the right side of the blog as well.



Ben Holcomb said...

I LOVE Dewpoints. I wish my truck would show dewpoint. I'd take dewpoint over temperature, even.

I know most viewers don't 'understand' dewpoints, which is a shame. Personally I think it'd be nerdy to show a temp/dewpoint map with things like 76/64 and 80/65 etc

Kevin White said...

I actually thought this was quite interesting, since being a meteorologist has always been a dream of mine.

I do agree with Mr. Holcomb though. It would be quite nerdy to show a the temp/Dewpoint map... as well as confusing to most people.

Diane@Diane's Place said...

I prefer to know the dewpoint rather than relative humidity. I know that dewpoint measures the amount of available moisture in the air, which is an indication of how much "juice" is in the air to fuel storms, and also is a more realistic indication of how uncomfortable I'll be, which is more important to me than relative humidity.

Or maybe I just screwed up that entire, run on sentence, lol.

Diane in Bay, Arkansas

Marty Mac said...

Watching your broadcasts over the last 3+ years, I have learned the value of dewpoints. I think you should continue trying to "educate" the viewing public. Out here in AR. this is much more relevant and valuable info. But keep the relative humidity info in there also.