“But It’s a Dry Heat…” Why 95º Is Miserable in Chicago and Pleasant in Albuquerque

Jennifer Keene
2 min readJun 14, 2022

You’ve probably heard, “But it’s a dry heat…,” from a Vegas-loving Nana, overly tanned dude at the truck top in Tucson, or other desert loving creatures. But what does that mean and is there anything to it?

With record hot temperatures happening across the US, and more to come, it is important to understand how hot your location will feel based on the temperature + humidity. These factors determine not only your comfort level, but relative safety for you, vulnerable members of your community, and pets.

The Heat Index is a thing.

The Heat Index is a neat chart that shows how different temperatures feel at different humidity levels.

This is why that “dry heat” thing is actually true! In Albuquerque, 95 degrees at 10% humidity feels more like 90 degrees and is fairly pleasant in the shade with a little breeze. On the other hand, in 95 degrees at 45% humidity feels more like 105 and is pretty uncomfortable, even in that infamously Windy City.

The dew point will point you to how muggy it will feel.

When looking at your weather app, pay attention to the dew point instead of the relative humidity to get the best idea of whether it will feel muggy or dry.

  • Dew point of 55 or less = Dry and comfortable
  • Dew point of 55 to 65 = “Sticky” with muggy evenings
  • Dew point of 65 or higher = Oppressive with lots of moisture in the air

Hot temperatures, whether muggy or dry can cause serious health issues and life threatening conditions.

Dangerous Conditions Start at 80 on the Heat Index

Especially for people in high-risk groups such as older people, or for those who are exercising, have prolonged exposure, have a sunburn, are drinking alcohol or are otherwise dehydrated.

  • 80–90 Heat Index = Extra fatigue
  • 90–105 Heat Index = Sunstroke, heat cramps, and heat exhaustion
  • 105–130 Heat Index = Sunstroke, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke
  • 130 or higher Heat Index = Heatstroke or sunstroke are highly likely

I’m no meteorologist, but I got my information from the National Weather Service.

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Jennifer Keene

I write short fun pieces that people actually have time to read.