Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 September 2020

Dubai and Abu Dhabi weather: Get set to sweat as humidity levels surge this week

The scorching heat of summer may be over - but now get ready for a sticky situation

The brunt of the UAE summer may be ending but intense humidity is expected to engulf the country over the next few days.

Forecasters warned of fog in some areas during early morning and said the sticky weather would continue until Friday.

On Tuesday, humidity levels reached 84 per cent by 8am in some parts of Abu Dhabi, including the Corniche.

The weather was less muggy in Dubai during the morning commute, with humidity hitting about 70 per cent near the coast along Jumeirah.

A spokesperson for the National Centre of Meteorology said humidity levels across the country could soar to 90 to 95 per cent in coastal areas on Wednesday and Thursday morning in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

For the rest of the week, the muggy spell is expected to be particularly noticeable at night and early in the morning.

Temperatures will peak at 44°C in internal areas of the country this week but the average is set to sit in the high 30s and low 40s. The highs would be felt from noon until about 2pm.

In the coastal regions of the UAE, the high humidity brought on by sea breezes off the Gulf exacerbates the temperatures. With humid days set to be become more frequent, what exactly is humidity and how does it affect us? The National explains:

What is humidity?

Humidity is a measure of how much water vapour is in the air around us. The more moisture in the air, the higher the humidity. Usually, the humidity figure we see or hear on weather forecasts is relative humidity, meaning it represents the moisture in the air as a percentage of the maximum amount of water vapour the air can hold. How much moisture the air can hold depends on the air temperature.

Why does it affect how comfortable we feel?

In might be 38 degrees on both Monday and Tuesday, but Tuesday might feel far hotter. The reason is likely to be humidity, and more specifically, how our bodies react to it.

We tend to deal with high temperatures, in low humidity, relatively well. When it is hot, but there is low humidity, we sweat and this moisture is easily evaporated into the atmosphere. This process helps us cool down. However, in very high humidity, the atmosphere is already heavy with moisture, meaning it is so clogged up there isn’t room for much more vapour. This means fluid from our skin evaporates more slowly, causing our bodies to overheat.

This is why there are often two numbers in weather forecasts – the actual temperature, and a "feels like" figure, which is supposed to take into account humidity.

What causes humidity?

Humidity comes from water evaporating from large bodies of water. As temperatures heat up, so do the seas, for example, causing more moisture to evaporate into the atmosphere. This is why humidity is worse in coastal areas, such as Abu Dhabi city and Dubai.

How should we cope?

At times of high humidity, it is especially important to stay hydrated. Where possible, it is advised to avoid going outside, and those who insist on exercising outdoors should be particularly aware of the potential dangers of heat stroke. In the home, a dehumidifier can help by sucking moisture out of the air.

Is it getting worse?

Research has suggested that global warming may lead to heatwaves beyond the limit of human survival, including in places such as Abu Dhabi and Dubai, with humidity a crucial factor.

A study published in 2015 said wet bulb temperature (WBT) - a combined measure of heat and humidity - is set to increase if global carbon emissions continue at current rates.

Updated: September 8, 2020 02:35 PM

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