AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Arctic airmass blasting into Central Texas on Thursday may bring the driest air ever recorded in Austin.
If you have ever been skiing in the mountains or lived in a colder climate, you may have noticed that you need to use more hand lotion or lip balm in the cold, dry air.
Cold air is, by nature, extremely dry. The lack of humidity in an Arctic airmass allows for temperatures to bottom out. Because of this, record-setting cold snaps in central Texas bring extremely dry air with them.
Dew Point Temperature vs. Humidity
Relative humidity is the most common variable discussed when evaluating whether the air outside feels oppressive and muggy, or crisp and dry. But a much better measure of the moisture in the air is the dew point temperature.
Relative humidity varies vastly from morning to afternoon as air temperatures change, since humidity is calculated in part using the air temperature.
The dew point temperature, however, is an absolute measure of the amount of moisture in the air. It is defined by the National Weather Service as the temperature to which air must be cooled in order to reach saturation.
Low dew point temperatures under 50° feel dry, crisp and fall-like — refreshing weather for a run or outdoor activities. But high dew point temperatures over 70° feel muggy and sweaty.
Driest air on record coming to Austin?
The Arctic airmass coming to Central Texas on Thursday dropped temperatures in Cheyenne, Wyoming, by 32° in 9 minutes—an all-time record for that area. It dropped temperatures in Dillon, Montana, by 26° in just three minutes. This pre-Christmas cold snap may bring record-setting wind chill temperatures of -70° to parts of the northern Rockies.
Since this airmass is so cold, is it also extremely dry. While a typical winter day may bring dew point temperatures in Austin of 40°, our best computer models are suggesting that dew point temperatures on Friday may drop as low as -15°. This would challenge an all-time record for the driest air ever sampled at Camp Mabry.
Lowest dew point temperatures on record in Austin
|Date||Dew Point Temperature|
|Jan. 24, 1963||-16°|
|Dec. 25, 1983||-13°|
|Dec. 23, 1989||-13°|
|Nov. 28, 1955||-10°|
|Jan. 10, 1962||-10°|
|Jan. 11, 1982||-10°|
|Dec. 22, 1989||-10°|
|Dec. 24, 1983||-9°|
|Jan. 12, 1963||-8°|
|Jan. 23, 1963||-8°|
So as temperatures drop, make sure you have your favorite moisturizer ready!
Austin’s highest-ever dew point temperature was a sauna-like 86°, recorded on both July 9, 1999 and Aug. 30, 1999.