Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Horrid Humidity and Summer Heat


 
Water Vapor Rising in the Early Morning   

Those of us who reside in land locked Oklahoma rarely experience the geological condition known as humidity. Of late the weather reports daily on the humidity factor and few of us actually understand what causes it. Those in southern and costal states are well acquainted with humidity as it increases with the amount of forest growth or water bodies… we have so much desert-like land that it is odd for us to experience so much humidity. Humidity makes the temperature feel even hotter than it actually is.

Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. Water vapor is the gaseous state of water and is invisible. Humidity indicates the likelihood of precipitation, dew, or fog and we can thank the recent rains for the increase of temperature. Of particular note to those of us who garden is the fact that high humidity reduces the effectiveness of cooling the body through sweating by reducing the rate of evaporation of moisture from the skin. This effect is calculated in the heat index mentioned on the weather each morning.

As one wanders the garden before the sunlight begins to bake, it will be noted there is dew, which is damp glistening water which has built up on the grass, leaves, and cars overnight. This occurred as the temperature fell overnight because the air was saturated with moist humidity.  The temperature at which saturation occurs is called the dew point, which is also mentioned on the weather reports. The higher the dew point, the more misery may be expected. *Of interesting note is the fact that when this process occurs in the sky clouds are created.

High humidity has been scientifically proven to cause headaches, including migraines, even if one has not been outside. However if one has been outside too long heat exhaustion may occur and it is serious. Signs of it include: dizziness, excessive sweating, pale clammy skin, nausea, irregular pulse rate, and muscle cramping. If one experiences any of the above mentioned, immediately go inside to cool off, drink several glasses of water, and possibly take a cool bath to lower your body temperature. *Remember to take water with you to the garden.

Since most gardeners are compulsive, when you begin feel too hot or sweat profusely, please stop! Don’t make yourself finish just one more task; don’t pull one more weed, clip one more bush, or pick three more squash… go inside. Early morning and early evening, before the blazing sun appears then as it disappears in the west, is the best time to play outside now. Stay cool!

*Photo: Water Vapor rising in the early morning.