Writer’s Workshop: It’s Not The Heat…

It’s the humidity!

When I hear someone say, “I’m moving to Arizona; It’s hot there, but it’s a dry heat,” I always think “Yeah, but so’s an oven.” I was in Tucson a number of years ago, and it was 110° almost every day, and even at night it would be in the upper 80’s. A lot of the restaurants there that had outdoor seating had a constant mist of water running on the patio in an effort to cool it off. The mist never really got that heavy, because it would evaporate quickly, but it did cool things down somewhat.

Sentinel Peak (Arizona)

One day when I was there I took a trip up Sentinel Peak, which has a big letter “A” on it for the University of Arizona. And it got really dark and started to thunder, and by the time I got back down the mountain it was raining. I didn’t think it rained there, but evidently they have “monsoons,” and besides, Tucson is higher up than, say, Phoenix, and will get more rain.

I used to think Chicago’s humidity during the summer was bad until I moved to Atlanta. I figured Atlanta’s not on the coast like Chicago (the coast of Lake Michigan, anyway) so it’s going to be less humid. Uh, no. I guess the Chattahoochee River makes things more humid in Atlanta than Lake Michigan does in Chicago, plus in Chicago you have the breezes blowing in off the lake that cool things down, at least within a mile of the lake shore. Beyond that, not much.

The worst place for humidity I’ve been has to be Houston. It’s like walking through a bathtub. (Mary’s been to New Orleans and says it’s worse.) The first time I went to Houston I couldn’t believe how cold they kept it inside. Outside it’d be 95° with about 95% humidity, inside it’d be 68° with about 20% humidity. That’s the way it felt, anyway. A week of that, and I went home and caught an upper respiratory infection that didn’t clear up until a couple of weeks later. Meanwhile, I flew to Hawai’i, and was in utter agony anytime the plane took off or landed. I thought my head was going to explode.

Second most-humid place I’ve been was Singapore, mostly because it rains every day, then the sun comes out and all the rain evaporates, to return the next day. It’s kind of like that in Atlanta, but we don’t get rain every day. It just threatens, getting really dark and starting to thunder, then the sun comes back out as if to say “Just kidding!” When a thunderstorm does actually strike, the weather radio starts shrieking and the local TV meteorologists break out all their toys and Jeopardy! is pre-empted. Me being a weather guy (i.e. I’ve read a lot about weather and picked up some of the lingo that I could use to impress the hell out of people, especially pilots), you’d think I could sit there with my eyes glued to the TV, but after a while it gets really boring.

Which is why I’ll stop here…

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Author: John Holton

I'm a writer and blogger who writes and blogs about things that interest me.

32 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: It’s Not The Heat…”

  1. Don’t miss Chicago-area humidity at all. One hot July weekend when my parents were in France, I had a rehearsal of Horizon Brass Rock at my parents’ house in Winnetka. After we finished loading equipment back in the band’s truck (the drummer and me, the keyboard player, were always the last to finish), I went in to take a shower. 5 minutes after getting dressed, I was dripping wet again.

    The summer monsoons here in Albuquerque bring clouds and cooling moisture during July and August. With highs in the high 80s-low 90s and 20-40% humidity, it’s bearable. Dogs get walked before 10am to avoid the worst heat, and a swamp cooler actually works here, for a lot less $$ than true refrigerated air AKA air conditioning.

    “Jesus just left Chicago… and he’s bound for New Orleans.”
    No humidity relief there!

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  2. First…that rap with the 2 old Jews is hilarious..poor Myrtle..hahhaaaa. I would love to meet these guys. We Canadians make complaining about the weather an art form. Right now, it is too hot because, today it will be 27C but with high humidity so it is sticky and so hot but then it’s going down to 22 by Saturday and no humidity. My friend stayed in Thailand for the winter and it is always humid and gross. I don’t like this weather at all and always wish for colder weather.

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    1. Singapore was about the same: lots of rain and humidity. Although, being surrounded by the Indian Ocean had had a mellowing effect.

      I’m the same way. At least, when it’s cold, you can put on a sweater. When it’s hot, you practically have to sit around naked to get cool.

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  3. This past vacation when I spent time in Houston, East Tenn., and New Jersey I was reminded about humidity and heat. Because of the AC I was freezing at my daughters’ and sister’s houses, but very uncomfortable at times when outside in the humid heat. Don’t like the high humidity or freezing cold, but I guess I’d learn to get used to it if I moved away from Southern California where the weather is often close to perfect and the government and many of the people are insane.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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  4. South Florida in August had been what The Mister and I agreed was the worst, until The Mister went to the Louisiana bayou for 3 months of summer. He said it was much, much worse, which I can’t reconcile, but must believe him. I was in New Orleans in early spring, so it wasn’t too hot then.
    He’s spent more time in the desert than I have, and neither of us are fans of dry heat, either, cause it’s still HOT.
    It’s less humid in Indy compared to Ft. Stewart, Georgia, and I pretty much thank God for that every summer day.

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    1. When it’s cool in cities near the Gulf (New Orleans, Houston, etc.), it’s quite comfortable. The humidity actually keeps it from getting too cold. When it’s hot, it’s Godawful. Like I said, I’ve never been to New Orleans, but I’ve been in Houston…

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    1. And yet, the most uncomfortable I’ve ever been was in San Francisco, summer of ’89. Not only was it hot (in the 90’s), the hotel I was staying in had no air conditioning. (The Union Square Hotel, if you’re wondering; I was doing work at Macy’s.) My brother and his wife were living in San Francisco at the time, and fortunately he invited me to stay with them, where it was cooler. Despite his cat deciding she wanted to sleep with me, it was blessed relief. Then again, I was accustomed to sleeping with cats; maybe that’s why I slept so well…

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  5. Well, at least you have lots of fodder for party small-talk. I live in an oven. Las Vegas. It is freaking HOT right now! We had some 115 temps this summer and 110 is pretty normal. But I have to say that humidity is way worse, at least for me, but maybe because I’m not used to it. The most humidly uncomfortable (I say that because I’ve been to Hawaii and although it’s humid, it was not at all uncomfortable. Maybe the ocean breeze helped) place I’ve been was Nebraska. Temps in the 90’s, 95% humidity, no air movement, I thought I was going to die. Give me dry heat over humidity any day. Oh, and monsoons… yeah, it’s monsoon season here. It flooded something fierce ten minutes from our house and all we got was sprinkles. Weird.

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    1. I was there a few years ago and remember that even at 9 at night, when the sun is down and it’s dark, it can be awfully hot in Las Vegas. I think the sidewalks and streets hold the heat. And I think that rivers and creeks throw off a lot more humidity than larger bodies of water, and there are quite a few of them in Nebraska. Spent some time in Nebraska when I was traveling on business, and hot always came with humid.

      I remember one day, we were driving along and suddenly found ourselves in the middle of a downpour. Fifty feet later, we drove out of it and everything was dry. Weather is very weird…

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  6. Here in Dallas it isn’t as bad as Houston, but we just got back from Charlottesville, Virginia, and that was near swamp like.
    It’s not hard to catch something in all that humidity. I still wouldn’t trade the heat for the Chicago winters, though. Remembering the last season of shoveling is enough to shut me up and get another glass of ice water here.

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    1. Chicago is a beautiful city as long as you don’t have to deal with snow, and you can end up dealing with it from before Thanksgiving well into April. I wouldn’t go back, because of the weather, but more because of the political climate. It is as crooked as it’s advertised.

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  7. Believe it or not, my little city in Canada has horrendous humidity. Obviously it cannot compare to the areas that you’ve been talking about but it does get bad here. When people visit from other places they’re actually surprised that “CANADA IS HOT!”

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    1. I haven’t been in Canada when it was hot, but I can imagine the humidity can get uncomfortable in places. I had a friend who lived in Toronto, and she would tell us about how hot and humid it was. If you live near a river or lake, you’ll pick up humidity from there.

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  8. Arizona in summertime – dry heat or not – does not appeal to me! Do you get hail in Atlanta? We get plenty of it, and it wasn’t that long ago that I learned it’s not that widespread a thing.
    It’s usually pretty dry here in Colorado, with comfortable temperatures, but we still find something weatherwise to whine about. Because I’m spoiled, the humidity gets to me when I visit humid places. Ohio. I remember that summer in Ohio…

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    1. We get a lot of severe weather in Atlanta, including severe thunderstorms with hail (generally pea-sized or dime-sized, nothing the size of golf balls or larger), strong winds that occasionally turn into tornadoes, “frequent cloud-to-ground lightning,” one bolt of which blew out the Ethernet port on my computer, and of course torrential rain that raises flash flood warnings. A lot of it is controlled by the Gulf air colliding with cooler air that comes down from Canada, and we get the aftermath of tropical storms and hurricanes.

      Ohio is very humid, the worst part being the Miami Valley near Dayton. At least that’s been my experience.

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  9. I had a business trip to Minneapolis many summers ago, and was surprised at how humid it was (the lakes). Here in Rhode Island, we have our share of heat and humidity, but it never seems to last. Three days tops and boom! A thunderstorm washes it away.

    One of my former colleagues would agree with your wife about New Orleans, John. ☀️ ☀️☀️☀️

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  10. We are kindred spirits on this topic. Yeah, but so is an oven made me howl with laughter. As an added challenge I have naturally curly hair. The heat and humidity give me a Bozo the Clown look that I am not particularly fond of.

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  11. I am against humidity in any shape, form or fashion. Unfortunately, I live between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and battle humidity constantly. I am thankful every day of my life for air conditioning!

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  12. New Orleans is a wet blanket constantly, but I want to go back, so I guess it doesn’t bother too much. lol
    I still need to go to Chicago and experience Chicago humidity. I bet it’s the same as Kansas City. 🙂

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