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Is Pinellas Park the country’s most humid city? A meteorologist calls that ‘a misnomer’

Aerial view of the Pinellas Park water tower
City of Pinellas Park
An analysis released by HouseFresh listed Pinellas Park as the No. 1 most humid city.

A London-based company states that Pinellas Park leads 20 Florida cities as the most humid cities in the U.S. A National Weather Service meteorologist says this might not be true.

If you live in the Tampa Bay region, you don’t need a meteorologist to tell you that it is hot and humid here. However, you might need one to help understand it.

An analysis released last week by HouseFresh, a London-based Home Product evaluation company, stated that all of the top 20 most humid cities in the U.S. are located in Florida.

In the analysis, Pinellas Park was listed as the No. 1 most humid city and St. Petersburg was listed as the second.

Courtesy: HouseFresh

Living in the Sunshine State, Tampa Bay residents are well aware of the sweltering temperatures they live in much of the year.

However, Rick Davis, senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Tampa Bay office in Ruskin, said the analysis recently released is “actually a misnomer.”

“To say it is hot and humid all year is incorrect,” Davis said. “However, to say it is (the most humid) from June to September, could be correct.”

In the methodology of the analysis, the company stated that to gather the humidity level for every U.S. city on their muggiest day, they collected data in September 2021 and used a private Minneapolis-based weather tracking website called WeatherSpark.

The analysis stated that Pinellas Park experiences “miserable” humidity for 48.9% of the day and “oppressive” humidity for 49.6% of the day. St. Petersburg followed close behind with “miserable” humidity recorded for 48.7% of the day and “oppressive” humidity for 49.8% of the day.

“The National Weather Service does not add descriptives like that because ‘oppressive’ to someone might not feel oppressive to someone else,” Davis said. “If you are in good health and acclimated, you can be outside when it is very humid with little impact.”

Davis said the fact that the greater Tampa Bay region and Florida have high relative humidity is due to the state’s natural geography.

“Just the fact that we are surrounded by warm water and the Tampa Bay region is surrounded by the bay and the Gulf of Mexico,” Davis said, “the moisture content in the summer is going to be higher because the dewpoint is usually much higher.”

Davis said many other places in the U.S. have high humidity. He said desert areas can also have 100% humidity. The difference is that the humidity in the desert occurs primarily at night while the humidity in Florida occurs during the day.

Humid conditions in Florida are not constant. According to the Florida Climate Center at Florida State University, during the winter, colder air holds much less water vapor than warm air and the colder parts of Florida in the winter are less humid than warmer areas further south.

Although Davis does not agree with the statements in the analysis, he agreed that Florida is known for its high heat and humidity during the summer.

Davis suggests that residents or visitors to the state check out the National Weather Service’s Heat Campaign for tips on how to alleviate humidity in the summer months.

I am the WUSF Rush Family Social Media Intern for spring 2022.