Soil Moisture and Low Temperatures

PSU Meteorology

PSU Meteorology

Soil moisture affects low temperatures in a different way than high temperatures…

If the ground is moist at night: There are two consequences. The first is evaporational cooling, but the result does not necessarily mean lower temperatures. The second is higher dew-points…

If there is more available moisture, dew-points will either be higher or will become higher. At night, evaporational cooling stops once the air temperatures falls to the dew-point. Simply put, if the ground is moist, expect higher dew-points and higher minimum temperatures.

If the ground is dry at night: The cooling can be even more significant. Since there is less available moisture, dew-points will probably be lower. That’s already a good starting place for lower minimum temperatures. Also consider that dry surfaces exchange heat faster than moist surfaces and there will be more heat lost. This is radiational cooling.

As a result, if the ground is dry at night, expect lower minimum temperatures.

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Quincy is a meteorologist and storm chaser who travels around the country documenting and researching severe weather. He has on-air experience with stations such as WTNH-TV in New Haven, CT and WREX-TV in Rockford, IL. He was most recently a digital meteorologist for After achieving his B.S. degree in Meteorology at Western Connecticut State University (WCSU) in 2009, he returned as a University Assistant to help produce weather broadcasts. He also gave guest lectures and worked on website design. He has over nine years of professional weather forecasting experience and his forecasts have been featured in newspapers and on radio stations in multiple states.

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