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Summer 2021 Was the Most Humid Since 2016, More Humid Than Average

Summer of 2021 was humid. We'll examine just how humid in this blog post.
Summer of 2021 was humid. We'll examine just how humid in this blog post.(KNOE)
Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 6:44 PM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - It’s not the heat; it’s the humidity!

Here in northeast Louisiana, this statement rings as true as the sun rises in the east. Our summers are known for intense humidity, the kind that makes you feel sweaty the moment you step outside. This is nothing new - it’s been that way for thousands of years.

But with all this in mind, I had a burning question: how did this summer (summer of 2021) stack up compared to previous summers? Were we any more or less humid than average?

I looked at the data to find out.

Digging Through Data (Warning: Lots of Science-y Language Ahead!)

Monroe Regional Airport (MLU) has been recording weather data since 1942. The station has reported air temperature, pressure, wind, and humidity during this time.

Consistent records only exist back to 1973, however, so that’s what I had to work with - data between 1973 and 2021.

To figure out the “average” summer humidity, I focused on the months of June, July, and August - a period of time otherwise known as meteorological summer. These are the months during which our humidity reaches fever pitch.

To accurately measure the moisture in the air, my study looked at the dew point temperature. The dew point paints a much more accurate picture of how “muggy” things are than relative humidity. Any dew point above 65 is generally considered to be uncomfortable, and dew points above 75 are just downright ludicrous.

Dew point feels-like scale
Dew point feels-like scale(KNOE)

For each year between 1973 and 2021, I downloaded the 3 months of dew point data between June 1 and August 31. I then threw this data into Excel - I was not going to do it by hand, after all!

Once the calculations were complete, I had a picture of what the “average” summer looks like in terms of mugginess.

What I Found

Between 1973 and 2021, the average summer dew point in Monroe, LA was approximately 71.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

So yeah… pretty muggy!

The most humid year of this period was 2016, which clocked an average dew point of 74.4 degrees. Statistically, that summer was more humid than 99% of other summers.

But what about summer of 2021?

The 5 most humid summers since 1973 (by average dew point)
The 5 most humid summers since 1973 (by average dew point)(KNOE)

Well, our most recent summer’s average dew point was 73.8 degrees. That makes it the third most humid summer since 1973, coming in only behind 2016 (74.4 degrees) and 1994 (73.9 degrees).

Statistically, it was more humid than 95% of other summers. Talk about sweaty!

Additionally, you can see from the chart that we spent the vast majority of our hours - 89% of them - with a dew point at or above 70 degrees. 49% of our time was spent at or above 75 degrees, and 2% of our time was spent at or above 80 degrees.

Percent of time spent this past summer (June 1 to August 31) in different dew point ranges
Percent of time spent this past summer (June 1 to August 31) in different dew point ranges(KNOE)

All in all, about half of our summer - or roughly 1,400 hours - was spent with a dew point that we would consider to be miserable.

Thankfully, summer has drawn to a close, and cooler days are upon us. Our access to moisture will become more and more limited as we progress forward into the next few months. However, it is not unheard of for dew points between 65 and 75 to occur here even in the winter. This actually happens during most years.

For those who are not fans of extreme humidity, these “winter warm-ups” are typically brief and few and far between.

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