Why Central Texas weather could start to affect the spread of the coronavirus

Weather Blog

(Note: Do not change ANY safety procedures based on this information–it is preliminary data, and does NOT suggest the virus will disappear.)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s not guaranteed, and will not be immediate, but there is reason to believe March 27 could be a significant date in Austin when it comes to the contagiousness of the coronavirus.

Why Friday? Data from MIT researchers indicate the new coronavirus may not be spreading as efficiently in warmer, more humid regions of the world. 

Preliminary data indicate only 6% of global cases have occurred in countries with an average temperature warmer than 64.4°. Austin’s average daily temperature reaches 65° on March 27. From there, it continues to climb, peaking at 86° during the period July 23rd-August 23rd.

It appears high humidity may be especially important, and Central Texas has an abundance of that. While the studies being done on the new coronavirus are still in progress, some scientists are optimistic that it will behave somewhat like the flu virus in our climate.

Moisture in the air essentially weighs down viruses, which when exhaled, are covered by a microscopic layer of moisture. That droplet does not evaporate easily in high humidity, allowing gravity to work its magic and get it out of the air.

Infectious disease specialists warn us to not expect the virus to disappear during the coming months, but say there is some reason for optimism that the spread may slow in climates like ours.

But, not all scientists believe the change in weather will have a significant impact in the spread of the disease. A prominent Harvard epidemiologist believes the decline in contagiousness may only be modest. 

Even if modest, any decrease in the rate of transmission due to our weather will be welcome. This isn’t something often heard around here, but … come on summer!

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