When you talk about the summer heat in East Texas, you have to talk about more than just the temperature. You also have to consider the humidity.
Because we do not live very far from the Gulf of Mexico, the humidity is often high here in the Pineywoods. That high humidity makes the temperature feel even hotter than your thermometer reads.
Our bodies sweat so we can cool down. It is actually the process of the evaporation of sweat off our skin that causes our body to cool down. When the humidity is high, that evaporation process takes longer. That means it takes longer for our bodies to cool down and that can spell danger.
Meteorologists have developed the heat index to take into account the combined dangers of high temperatures and high humidity. You can think of the heat index as the temperature it actually feels like when you walk outside.
Anytime the heat index soars between 100 to 105 or even higher, the heat becomes dangerous to our bodies. Prolonged exposure could lead to heat exhaustion or even heat stroke.
So, anytime you hear our forecasts call for heat index values above 100, try to avoid the hottest part of the afternoon by staying in the air conditioning.