How can it feel humid during a drought?

The drought that began in the spring of 2012 is actually an extension of the 2010 drought. The recent February storms have lessened the current drought, which covered 80 percent of the lower 48 states of the United States with at least abnormally dry conditions. The economic impact on the Midwest has been estimated to be more than $35 billion.

The field corn and soybeans crops of the Midwest have been particularly hard hit. Water systems throughout the country have been affected by the lack of moisture. Low water levels in parts of the Mississippi have a negative effect on trade and commerce. Even with this dry weather, some have noted the uncomfortable humidity. To address how this can be, we need to first define a drought.

There are several definitions of drought, but in general there are three types. A meteorological drought is any substantial and prolonged lack of rainfall over a period of time in a given region. A hydrological drought is a deficiency in surface or subsurface water supplies. An agriculture drought exists when there is not enough soil moisture to meet the needs of a crop at a particular time.

There can be many water vapor molecules in the air, which increases the humidity of the air, but if those water molecules in the gas phase do not condense to form clouds that eventually grow to raindrop-sized particles, it will not rain. The humid air near the ground must rise, which will cause clouds to form and possibly precipitate. Without that air rising, there can be a lot of uncomfortable humidity while in a drought condition.

Category: Climate
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