December 02, 2022

Low Indoor Relative Humidity and the Next Snow Event

Is your skin getting dry and cracked?  Developed a dry cough?  Getting a bit of static discharge when you touch that door knob?

These are all symptoms of low relative humidities that develop when outdoor temperatures turn cold.     

To illustrate check out the indoor relative humidities around Seattle, courtesy of the PurpleAir network.  Many indoor locations have relative humidities below 30%, some lower.

Relative humidities are far higher outside.  How can that be?   All is explained in my podcast (see information below).

And in the first segment of the podcast, I talk about the weather forecast.  Another snow event will occur tonight and tomorrow morning, but it won't be the equal of two days ago.   

As shown by the predicted snowfall totals from the high-resolution UW WRF system, most of the snow will be over the Olympics and Kitsap Country, with northwest Washington (particularly Whatcom County) getting a piece of the snowy action.

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  1. It looks like our place in Olalla will be on the very edge of the snow's hard to say how much snow we'll see.

  2. Yes- I tend to be most comfortable with indoor humidities between 40 and 80%, or, put another way, dewpoints between 40 and 65 degrees. Strangely, I find that very low humidities also make my palms and feet sweat more, probably to make up for the dryness. I use a lot more hand lotion in winter too. I know that the "pineapple express" is not very popular with skiers (and I do ski) but it does feel very nice for a walk or a run at sea level- feels like Hawaii has come for a visit.

    My three aquariums and numerous houseplants do help boost my home's humidity considerably. Another trick I use is to leave the warm water in the bathtub after bathing. That saves heat too. The downside of humidifying your home too much, though, is that water condenses on the windows, which isn't good for the window frame, and causes mold to grow on it.

    1. As an addendum, I will add that low humidity makes me feel colder and I need more heat. Many people claim that dry air mitigates the effect of both heat and cold. While I agree that it makes heat more tolerable, I find that when the air is very dry, I need more heat to be comfortable, say, 72 degrees. But when the dewpoint is high, say, 60 degrees, then a temperature of 68 or even 66 degrees is comfortable.

    2. I have experienced the too much moisture bit when unbeknownst to me, I had a running water problem when the hot water faucet in the bathroom of my rental apt dripped until it could not be turned off much at all, so had to call into management to get that issue fixed ASAP.

      The result was whenever it rained, the ceiling in my bedroom would drip and grow mold up in the corners especially, as was the windows, mind you, I had insulated windows. Without the moisture problem, it was fine. I did keep a dehumidifier in there, it helped, but was not adequate enough always.

  3. According to Weather Underground, there was a 12f temperature range between S Bellingham (Fairhaven at 41 degrees) and North Bellingham (airport at 29 degrees) around 3:30 pm today. That is about 10 miles point to point.

    The Temp in Fairhaven now (4:03 pm) is 33 degrees as the Frasier outflow has started to pick up again. A 9 degree drop in 30 minutes - Crazy!

  4. Right on cue Cliff. Heavy snow now here in Seabeck. Under a heavy band now with the giant flakes, some of them 2 inches in length.

  5. Heavy wet snow falling on Vashon, trees and branches are coming down, power went out at 1am. I'm seeing occasion blue flashes that I presume are from transformers or lines going down. It's going to be a long night.

  6. It's 9:30AM Saturday and as predicted, it's clear and very sunny, but cold. Sidewalks still appear to have some ice, at least that was the case some 40 minutes or so ago. Currently, it's 38 and very sunny and by the time the day is done, the high will only hit 41F here in Tacoma.

  7. We got 4-6 inches in south Shorline over night. We didn't lose power, but all our lines are underground, thank goodness. My buddy up in Millcreek said he got 1 inch.... so really depended where you were and what kind of clouds were over your house, LOL!

  8. Back up to 50% humidity indoors here, after a few days at 40%. Nice to get it down occasionally to control the mites and mold

  9. West side of Capitol Hill in Seattle: started as a rain snow mix, but from about midnight to 3 a.m. we got three inches of very heavy, wet snow that stuck to pretty much everything: trees, street signs, fences, you name it.

    Then the rain started: by 3:30 or so it was a deluge with little or no snow mixed in. I was out with my camera (and some VERY good raingear) and watched the snow absorb the rainfall. . .

    . . . Until it didn't. Between maybe 4:00 and 5:00 a.m. the snow threw in the towel and started to melt off everything it had covered. By the time things cleared up, just before sunrise, the only snow left downtown was the occasional pile on a sidewalk or covering a grassy area. Easy come, easy go!

  10. I got an additional ~2 inches of snow on the Mill Creek - Bothell line last night. On top of the snow from the last storm, a total of about 6 inches.


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