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Anyone who has been in Phoenix for more than 10 minutes has heard the phrase "it's a dry heat." Yesterday, it got to 112 at my house, but no matter how hot it is, it would be worse if there was higher humidity.

Many people think that a day over 100 with 20% humidity in Phoenix is easier to take than a 90 day in Miami when the humidity is at 75%. That's not just our defense mechanism kicking in. We're not just making it up--it's true! It's called the Heat Index.


October 4, 2006 at 8:57 am
(1) Edward A says:

(I have a question) From 0 temp to 100,at what temp does dry heat kick in? Could it happen on rainy days? Or only on very hot & clear days? Or only on high Humidity days? Thanks, Ed

October 4, 2006 at 3:09 pm
(2) phoenix says:

Hello Edward,

“Dry heat” doesn’t kick in. It’s simply a phrase, not a meteorological concept per se. All dry heat refers to is the fact that when it is hot here, it might not feel as hot as, say, in Florida, where the humidity is usually higher. When our humidity is low, it is drier, and not as sticky.

June 6, 2008 at 11:36 pm
(3) Lyle says:

LMAO at Edward….what a dumbass!

June 7, 2008 at 10:12 am
(4) Douglas says:

I lived in Tampa for 20 years and have traveld to Arizona and Nevada in the summers. believe me I by far prefer 110 degrees and 15% humidity to 90 degrees and 80% humidity. the humidity also makes it feel colder in the winter. Ive been in New Jersey in the winter and 35 degrees feels alot more comfortable then 40 degrees (yes it does get that cold in Florida in the winter) in Florida because of the dampness.

June 2, 2009 at 8:01 pm
(5) Graham says:

I visited Phoenix last year as I was travelling – 110 there was FAR more bearable than even 80 here in Scotland :D

That might also have something to do with the prevalence of aircon in your fine country, too ;)

August 17, 2009 at 5:11 pm
(6) Joe says:

Just some friendly advice from a desert dweller: Having grown up in the Arizona desert I can tell you many a foreigner has come here and died. Ok, you think the ‘dry heat’ is not so bad, but if you don’t drink enough water you will die. You think you’re ok, but your insides are getting ready to shrivel you up like a prune and turn you into jerky. I just hate seeing all the false info out there and I don’t want to see people die because of it. Be careful in the desert. Drink a lot of water when you’re outside in the desert heat. And if possible drink some electrolytes. You’re body is perspiring much more than you realize. The perspiration is just not clinging to your body as it does in humid temps. I’ve lived in humid climates before. Both in humid areas of Texas, as well as 7 years in the UK. One a day in London when it was 96 (almost reaching the all-time record) I felt like it was just another summer day in Austin. It’s like that all summer in the Texas hill country. I DO know what I’m talking about. Again, I remind you, in the summer heat of the desert you ARE perspiring and losing a lot of water. Be careful. All the best.

March 11, 2010 at 11:04 pm
(7) John says:

Maybe this will help people from cold climates understand. You know the “wind chill” factor? 30 degrees with 20 mph winds feels like 17 degrees. That’s the key. The “feels like” is what really matters.

With wind chill, you’re actually more prone to frostbite because of the wind. Wind chill basically makes it colder for all intents and purposes. I don’t think it works that way with humidity, in fact it might even be more dangerous when it’s a dry heat (even though it’s more comfortable). Just remember to drink lots of water.

April 4, 2010 at 12:37 am
(8) R.J. says:

The Summers here in Florida are hot and humid and stormy. However, it’s not always humid when it’s hot out. There have been many an early Autumn(mid-September-early OCT) and late Spring(May before rainy season) when temps have soared into the 90′s(or cool into the 80′s) with dewpoints as low as 35-45 degrees fairenheight(I so wish all of Summer would be like this)!

But once rainy season(around here we call it the muggy season) kicks in, you can forget about comfortable humidity!

April 6, 2010 at 3:47 pm
(9) Mandy Cat says:

I still remember my first visit to London in the late 1970′s. The city was experiencing an “extreme heat wave” — up in the MIDDLE 80′S EVERY DAY!!!! The newspapers were full of tips about how to maintain health under such inhuman conditions and recipes for hot weather meals. I was the only person around wearing a sweather; it felt kind of clammy to me.

February 16, 2011 at 11:58 am
(10) Joe, you are an imbecile. says:

Joe, you are an imbecile.

You are SUCH A LIAR.

“many a foreigner has come here and died”.

Find me a record of a single person who went to Phoenix and died of heat.

I know for an absolute FACT that human beings can handle Temperatures above waters boiling point for periods of 1-2 hours.

Our sweating is a fantastic mechanism, it’s called evaporative cooling.

Consider yourself called on your bullshit.

August 16, 2011 at 2:46 am
(11) Andy says:

To the poster above me… first of all, calm down. Secondly, just google “Arizona heat related deaths” and you will find plenty of information that you might find interesting.

Every time there is an extreme heat wave in the summer, lots of homeless people die, especially in the Phoenix area.

Many times, people come here who aren’t used to the heat and they think they can handle being outside all day without drinking a ton of water. Many times, they end up hospitalized. Occasionally, they can even die. No, it isn’t common, but it does happen.

September 18, 2011 at 1:14 am
(12) mike says:

@Douglas NJ can be a very humid climate. It may not be as humid as tropical florida, but pretty much all the way up the east coast as far as i’ve been (“up-up state” NY) Is much more humid than the west coast by the deserts, not just florida. With that said, it’s not that much more comfortable in NJ than florida being that it’s not that much less humid in nj than it is in florida and the humidity makes a 30F degree night almost unbearable compared to lets say arizona.

August 8, 2012 at 1:20 am
(13) Poster number ten is incorrect. says:

Not only do a number of folks die from heat in Phoenix, what you said about the boiling temperature of water is simply incorrect. No one can handle a heat over or even near to 212 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours. The sweat on your skin doesn’t boil away into the sky in that sense; rather, individual particles that are really, really hot break away from their bonds to other water particles and are released into sky, leaving what is cooler behind. We excrete really, really hot water from our bodies through our sweat glands, and on the open skin that water will evaporate pretty fast unless the surrounding conditions are pretty humid. It’s not near the boiling point of water, it’s just that a thirsty atmosphere will easily snatch warmed up water from our skin if it’s given the chance.

September 8, 2012 at 4:50 pm
(14) Poster number 10 is a moron says:

not because he disagrees, but because he disagrees with an attitude. Joe is correct. I live in southern Louisiana, and I can vouch for the way a quick trip to the store leaves my undershirt drenched in sweat. We don’t sweat because of the humidity, we sweat because of the heat. and In dry places, you don’t realize your body is sweating so much as you do in humid places. And it can be easy to forget to replenish fluids in your body. when you arent changing shirts 10 times a day.

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