Amazingly, there are those who dispute the concept of a ‘humidex’. My decades old Collins English dictionary, approximately 1700 pages of word definitions and etymology, doesn’t even include this variation of humid. Some who don’t accept this reality, especially cogent in summer, are also good candidates for rejecting its opposite seasonal measure, commonly known as ‘wind chill’.
The Collins dictionary defines ‘humid’ simply as moist or damp. Considering the impact on skin and clothing, that about sums it up.
‘Humidex’ refers to a humidity index. According to Wikipedia, it represents “an index number used by Canadian meteorologists to describe how hot the weather feels to the average person, by combining the effect of heat and humidity”.
Perhaps the biggest problem discussing this subject is that some people feel humidity, and so the implications of humidex values, more than others. Like many, I enjoy a reasonable degree of heat, certainly more than a corresponding degree of cold. But when it comes to feeling the additional, increasingly pervasive, influence of humidity, there are two camps with many affected in between. I’m definitely in the ‘free me from humidity’ camp.
When I hear someone declare that they enjoy, or even love, humidity, I (overtly or implicitly) shake my head. What is the appeal of more moisture in the air, making it more difficult to feel cooler?
Once can accept that those born in areas such as Louisiana, where humidity reigns, are more likely to be tolerant of, even comfortable with, such conditions. For those of us in more northerly climes, as in Canada, inherent exposure is variously more muted and limited, making desirability less likely.
One of the most annoying aspects of the humidex measure is the casual attitude represented by many of those on television, talking about or reporting moisture impacted weather. Many of them evidently think nothing of the discomfort of many of us as humidity rises. Their comments can often be summarized as simply the hotter, the better; apparently, if the humidex is in play, all to the good. It should be noted that they tend to be indoors in central air conditioned comfort when relaying these impressions. Even if the weather reporter is outdoors, feeling the humidex personally, there seems little impetus to sour the studio mood when making reference; moreover, chances are the weatherperson will be back indoors in comfort soon, anyway.
Now, at the end of August, we in much of south and eastern Ontario are still feeling the effects of an almost relentless period of humidity. Working in a room comforted only by a multispeed fan, I can attest to the challenge of attempting to keep up mental energy and creativity, while coping with yet another muggy day. There have been more of them than I can remember in decades of summer. As days of such discomfort have dragged into many weeks, the incidental effects have cumulatively reduced my recent productive output, and I suspect of others as well.
So, to those of you whose lifestyles are such that you are able to evade, or actually enjoy, the physical and mental drain of humidity, go ahead and bask in the emanating glow. But, please remember there are many of us unable to enjoy your ride, actually looking forward to cooler days ahead. In particular, if you’re someone who reports on the weather, try to have some sensitivity.
You know, maybe there really is something to this global warming issue after all.