Breathing in the Arcata air, you can feel the humidity invading your lungs. The usually crisp forest air has been exchanged for a hot, humid mugginess.
The weather may be nice for weekend adventures, but trekking up the stairs to Founders Hall has now become a sweaty, smelly challenge for most students. Those returning to the HSU campus are noticing the difference in the weather.
Kristen VanGilder, a general biology major in her fourth year at HSU, has mixed sentiments on the change in the weather.
“It’s nice that it’s been so warm, you get to go to the beach and it’s not raining, but walk into classes and you’re drenched in sweat,” said VanGilder.
“Last year we got buckets, and then so far this year it’s just been hot, really, really hot. Recently it’s also been pretty humid.”
Jeffrey Kane, a 2008 HSU alum and associate professor in the Forestry and Wildland Resources department, provides some insight into the intense heat and humidity.
“It seems like there has been a change from wetter to dryer, and now we might be going into a wetter cycle again,” said Jeffrey Kane, “and that seems to be consistent with the ideas of how the climate for California is predicted to change.”
During the three years Kane was a grad-student, Humboldt State was cold, wet and foggy most of the time. Originally arriving in Humboldt in 2005, Kane has been here during the wet seasons as well as the multi-year drought.
“I came back in 2012, which happened to be the first year of the drought that lasted up until about last year,” said Kane. “I think last year was a pretty average year.”
Unlike last year, the last couple months of the summer heat and humidity has been higher than in recent years. While temperatures above 80 degrees are usually rare, this past summer saw temperature frequently in the 80s and 90s.
“What they’re predicting is increasing temperatures, and what did we have this year? We had 90 degree temperatures here in Arcata,” said Kane. “That was record breaking in some areas and very hot, uncharacteristic I would say.”
The heat and humidity within Humboldt county is unusual for the area, but correlates with the general increase in temperatures in California and around the world. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, temperatures worldwide are rising.
Kane said that the increase in temperature here in Arcata is consistent with the ideas and predictions on changing temperatures, “largely attributed to climate change, global warming, and the increase in Co2 in the atmosphere.”
While the increase in heat has some fun outside benefits, the constant fluctuating humidity is a huge drawback.
“Precipitation is a little more complex,” said Kane. “What they’re predicting isn’t that we’ll necessarily get less precipitation, but that well get more variable precipitation.”
Basically the weather patterns themselves have not altered, though the general temperature and climate have changed creating repercussions for the local weather patterns.
“It’s concerning, but I have hope that it will turn around, and we’ll get some rain,” said VanGilder.
Rainfall is expected to increase as we enter autumn. However, the heat and humidity may also continue for longer than we have experienced before.
“We can look forward to dryer drys and wetter wets,” said Kane.
Jermaine Wilson, a criminology major also in his fourth year at HSU, came to Humboldt to escape the heat of LA, only to have the heat follow him here.
“It pretty much makes you want to just lay down in bed, in cold conditions,” said Wilson. “It’s to hot to do anything else.”
We’ll just have to wait and see if the humidity dissipates. In the mean time, drink water, take advantage of the sun, and give yourself enough time to walk to class.