The upside of all this humidity? Younger-looking skin
If you’re coming into work this morning looking like you came from the gym and not just off the GO train – flushed skin, frizzed hair and sweating buckets all around – blame the humidity.
Environment Canada’s humidity reading at Pearson International Airport at 7 a.m. was at a whopping 98 per cent – meaning that Toronto was at a near saturation point this morning as to the amount of water vapour the air could contain.
“It’s very humid out. It’s about as humid as you can get in Toronto. You might as well be in a fog,” says Environment Canada’s senior climatologist Dave Phillips.
The result, even from just a few exposed moments trave;ling from your air-conditioned house to your air-conditioned workplace, can be an uncomfortable feeling of sweat, frizzed-out hair, flushed skin, irritability, and even bloating.
And Phillips says that it’s definitely a more humid summer than the summer of 2009 – by a lot.
“It’s like night and day compared to last year,” he says.
Phillips says that between Canada Day and now, we’ve experienced 23 days where the Humidex (a combined reading of both the temperature and humidity to determine perceived temperature) was over 35, compared to just 3 days during the same time last year. There have been 9 days where the Humidex was over 40, an unsafe level, up from 2 days last year.
“But the good thing about this summer is that we haven’t had the haze. We’ve had heat and humidity, but not the haze. It’s been healthy (this year) for air quality,” Phillips adds.
The sky-rocketing humidity in Toronto currently at near-saturation point could pose a health risk, as with any other extreme weather measurement, Environment Canada warns.
“The effect on humans on our health is almost all bad when it comes to humidity. The higher the humidity, the more uncomfortable it is,” Phillips says.
Phillips warns though, that humidity readings shouldn’t be taken at face value and the “relative” part in relative humidity is important.
“Warmer air can hold more moisture than the colder air. When you raise the temperature, the relative humidity will go down,” he says.
A temperature of 22 degrees for example can hold about 8 grams of water for every cubic metre. That means if the relative humidity reading was listed at 50 per cent, the air would only be holding 4 grams of water per cubic metre. As the air temperature rises and is able to hold more water in the air, the relative humidity reading will drop numerically, even though the amount of water in the air has stayed the same (at 4 grams).
That means as the temperature rises this afternoon to a high of 28 C according to Environment Canada, the amount of water in the air will stay the same, but the air will feel drier, less moist and more comfortable.
The only possible upside to humid weather in Toronto? Better skin.
Phillips points out that Calgary residents age quicker and have more chapped skin than Torontonians because of their drier weather.
“We may be sweating buckets, but at least our skin is soft,” says Phillips.
Phillips says that although Environment Canada does not have forecasts for humidity, he says judging by the weekend temperature forecasts of near 30 C, “we can be guaranteed it’s humid air. You’re not going to get desert air with those temperatures and with night-time lows of 21 degrees and 19 degrees.”
-- Jasmeet Sidhu, Staff Reporter