5 Weather Conditions that Influence Comfort the Most

These conditions control whether you're too hot, too cold, or just right

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We all check our local weather forecast daily to know what to wear. But when you do, what weather variables do you pay most attention to? Air temperature? Air pressure? Chance of rain?

If you really want to know how cold, warm, comfortable, or uncomfortable you'll feel when you walk outdoors, be sure to watch the observations for these 5 weather variables which influence your comfort the most:

1. Air Temperature

One of the primary factors in determining how comfortable you feel outdoors is temperature. After all, air sits next to your skin or the thin layer of clothing in-between the two.

If air temperatures are cool or cold, you'll shiver and feel cold as a result of your body moving heat to the surrounding air (by conduction) which makes it gradually lose internal heat.

If air temperatures are too warm, you'll feel overheated and uncomfortably warm. That's because your body has trouble releasing the excess heat that builds in it out into the surrounding air.

While we all have a slightly different temperature we're comfortable at, this range tends to fall between 68° and 78°F.

2. Sunny Skies

If sky conditions will be clear with abundant sunshine, expect to feel much warmer than whatever the air temperature is. Why? When direct sunlight shines on you, the sun's ultraviolet and electromagnetic radiation is being embedded directly into your skin. (For this same reason, you should never place thermometers in direct sunlight when measuring air temperature. If you do, you'll get an inflated temperature reading!) 

3. Wind

Wind makes you feel cooler by evaporating moisture from the body. (Since wind absorbs latent heat away from the body, you feel cooler.) While you might not realize it, your skin always has some amount of moisture on it and constantly has water evaporated from it; wind just intensifies this process.

If a breeze blows on a hot summer's day, wind's cooling power can be a godsend. But during winter, winds can make temperatures feel dangerously colder than they actually are -- a phenomenon known as the wind chill.

4. Humidity

Humidity, or the amount of moisture in the air, makes you feel hotter. When humidity is high, evaporational cooling is reduced and heat builds in the body.

While a a better of is the dew point temperature. As a rule of thumb, if the higher the dew point climbs above 60° F, the more muggy and miserable the air will feel. When dew point values are below 40°F, the air is considered to be comfortably dry.

The combination of high temperatures and high humidity makes temperatures feel dangerously hotter than they actually are -- a phenomenon known as the heat index.

5. Clouds

A cloud-filled sky can either make you warmer or cooler, depending on what time of day the clouds roll in.

If the day starts off and stays cloudy, the cloud cover will block the sun's heat by reflecting it back out into space and not allowing surface air temperatures to warm as much as they otherwise would.

If, however, clouds move in sometime between 10AM to 3PM (the time frame when the maximum heating of the day takes place) and remain overnight, they can trap heat near the ground, encouraging the balmy temperatures reached earlier in the day to linger into the nighttime hours.

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Taking Control of Your Outdoor Comfort

Face it: you can't change the weather. But by knowing how it affects you (as discussed above), you can work around it and plan accordingly.

So the next time you're outdoors and are feeling too hot, take control of your comfort by doing any one of the following: stepping out of direct sunlight, catching a breeze, or waiting for the temperature or humidity to decrease will all help you cool down. On the other hand, if you're cold, we advise stepping into the sun, sheltering from the wind, or waiting for the temperature and or humidity to climb.