Are Chicago’s heat waves typically more desert-like or oppressively humid?

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Dear Tom,
Are Chicago’s heat waves typically more desert-like or oppressively humid?

Margaret Robertson Chicago

Dear Margaret,
The unmitigated answer is oppressively humid. A check of the record books for the city’s six longest heat waves (10 or 11 consecutive 90-degree plus days), all were accompanied by Gulf Coast-level dew points in the upper 60s and 70s on the majority of the days. The city’s deadly 1995 heat wave that claimed more the 750 lives featured three days with upper 90s and triple-digit temperatures and stifling upper 70s/low 80s dew points, which produced heat indices as high as 125. The 1988 drought summer with a record 47 90-degree plus days that included seven days triple-digit highs featured many days with a Chicago version of “desert-like” heat. Many of the hot days that summer had dew points in the 50s and lower 60s, delivering a drier type of heat.

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