The Truth about Humidity and the Weather in Brisbane…

Australia and New Zealand magazine…from somebody who moved to Brisbane eight years ago from a little country called England.

Time for another reprint of one of my Australia and New Zealand magazine articles, this one appeared in their September edition. As we are now seeing temperatures steadily rising here in Brisbane, we’ve already had a few 30°C plus days, the timing of this article here is perfect. Just to remind you though, we are only halfway through spring right now.

So what happens in summer? Will it really get too hot? Here’s the article.

Bad weather?

Bad WeatherWhen my wife and I first talked about moving to Australia my first thought was “Ooh, that’s a hot country, isn’t it? That would be nice.” And let’s face it, when you’ve lived in the UK and put up with the cold, dark, damp, grey, drizzly and did I mention cold winters for almost half a century as I had, ‘hot’ becomes a quite attractive option.

Fast forward to now and I have escaped the cold, dark, damp, grey misery known as UK winters and I’m happily enjoying the subtropical delights of Brisbane.

But now that I am here, and I’ve been here a while, people who don’t live in Brisbane say to me “I couldn’t live in Brisbane, it’s too humid.” This is a viewpoint that makes me laugh like a drain inside my head, because laughing like a drain out loud is way too embarrassing. That’s a different matter though, what’s important here is why this statement gives me so much amusement.

As someone who spent many years in the UK, I think I know what bad weather is and humidity doesn’t come on top of my list.

For me, suffering five or six weeks of a year when the weather is ‘humid’ simply doesn’t compare to my previous experiences of ‘bad weather’. From where I’m standing, or sitting, this is what I experience during those apparently intolerable five or six weeks.

The weather is hot, sometimes very hot. The sky is often the most beautiful blue you’ve ever seen and there isn’t a cloud to be found. The only downside is that, well, you get a little sweaty when you do anything energetic, like reading a book.

Things can get incredibly sweaty if you do something even more strenuous, like perhaps digging a hole with a shovel. But then that’s something I always try and avoid in my life and anyway, doing the same thing in the cold, dark, damp, grey, drizzle of the UK isn’t much fun either.

So for me, if ‘humid’ is Brisbane’s bad weather, I’ll take it. I remember all too well what the alternative is.

My five or six weeks may be different to other people’s idea of humid though. In particular my wife; she tells me her hair is frizzy for around 12 weeks of the year during the humid period and she doesn’t like it. I tell her that her hair looks wonderful, frizzy or not, but it makes no difference, she still doesn’t like it. What we do like though, that’s both of us, are the benefits of living in Brisbane.

I’ve not worn a coat in this city ever. On the final day of autumn this year, in other words the day before winter began, my wife took part in a charity 35 kilometre beach walk not far south from here. People were swimming in the sea.

Back at the accommodation, I was keeping an eye on my daughter who was in the swimming pool with eight other kids.

kids2

Kids swimming

Meanwhile, the next day, many other parts of Australia had snow.

So not all of Australia is hot all the time, but I love the climate we have here in Brisbane. It’s not for everyone though, which is why we have Melbourne, Canberra and Hobart.

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{ 29 comments… add one }
  • Steve February 5, 2017, 12:18 am | Link

    The Truth about Humidity and the Weather in Brisbane…interesting, so why don’t you tell us again about your 5-6 week theory on humidity Bob. I am currently at 10-11 weeks of living in Satan’s crotch and only about half way through the sticky season. Say hi to Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny for me you Idiot!

    • BobinOz February 5, 2017, 9:14 pm | Link

      What an obnoxious comment, well done! By the way, the humidity in Brisbane on the very day you posted this comment was 57%, in Sydney it was 80%, Canberra 71% and Perth 62%.

      Of course, up in Darwin it was even higher, 85%.

      Sounds to me as though you need to man up Steve.

      • bobinoz March 15, 2017, 8:43 pm | Link

        Bobinoz,

        I suggest you learn what the dew point temperature is and how it’s relative to the percentage figures you’re quoting. I’ve read a few of your posts and you’re giving many people misleading information regarding humidity and how it effects some cities in Australia.

        • BobinOz March 16, 2017, 12:16 am | Link

          The article above simply explains that I prefer the humidity in Brisbane to the cold in the UK. I don’t claim to know anything about the technicalities of humidity. I know I’ve written other posts about humidity, and I know that in one of them (at least) I have mentioned that I do not understand it, it’s a complex subject. I have even admitted I don’t know what a dew point temperature is.

          Then you come along and have a little dig at me.

          Here’s a question for you; have you ever thought it might be better to share your knowledge and educate and help people rather than pick holes? You seem to be implying you know all about this stuff, but apparently you want to keep it to yourself.

          Not very helpful, is it?

          Of course, your comment is almost certainly in response to my answer to Steve, but he was impolite which was why I answered as I did. By and large people who comment on this website like to help people, you and Steve seem to have missed that point.

          • bobinoz's safe haven March 16, 2017, 10:20 am | Link

            As soon as someone remotely opposes your views or opinions in your little ”safe haven” of a website you become unnecessarily defensive and need several paragraphs explaining yourself. Maybe we’ve all missed the bit where this website is a shrine dedicated to you.

            I was planning to write a paragraph briefly explaining the subject at hand (humidity in Australia) but after reading your insecure response it really leaves people wondering how you’re going to respond to anything at all.

            Good luck to you, mate.

            • Mark March 16, 2017, 11:07 am | Link

              I had been reading these comments on here and figured at the very least you could come back and explain the dew point temperature but instead you come back with another have a go at Bob post. What’s the point, Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; an argument an exchange of ignorance. I would have loved to have had your knowledge and understood the rationale behind humidity by you defending your have a go at Bob (and yes its his site. Clue is in the title) If you could have defended your arguments in a rational way. Otherwise, all you have is an opinion.

              • BobinOz March 16, 2017, 2:44 pm | Link

                Mark, I’ve written so many articles and post on this website I can’t even remember the half of it. Turns out though, that in 2010 I did explain what the dew point temperature is, you can read about it in my post The Australian Climate: Humidity Explained.

                It’s the same post I linked to earlier in this comment thread, I should have read it to the end because whilst the article starts with me saying humidity is complex and I don’t understand it, by the end of it I do explain dew point.

                So we don’t need this guy’s help, he can go visit someone else’s website and have a dig there. I think it’s what makes him feel good about himself.

  • CeeTea January 26, 2017, 9:19 am | Link

    Way too humid in Melbourne for me this summer! Also humid equals flies!!

    Not that I’m fussy really, I just prefer 22 degrees, a soft breeze & a blue sky 🙂 which does arrive a fair bit in Melb (for 5 mins before it changes again).

    Have found your articles & love your humour & advice. Have lately been dreaming of a slightly cooler climate – was looking North coast Tassy but BOM says humidity 70% year round, yikes! Got any suggestions?

    • BobinOz January 27, 2017, 6:35 pm | Link

      I’m not sure that can be right, I’ve just had a look at the weather in Hobart for this week, bearing in mind it is the middle of summer, and it says the humidity is between 42% and 59% over a seven-day period.

      Similarly, I thought Melbourne was more of a dry heat than a humid heat, and in Adelaide it’s even drier. I think without doubt your best option would be Tasmania, which is an absolutely beautiful state, but if that really is too humid for you, maybe try Canada 🙂

  • Felix January 23, 2017, 10:55 am | Link

    Give me the weather in Hobart any day!

    • Bob January 23, 2017, 4:30 pm | Link

      Yes I prefer the cooler weather. Hot climates are uncomfortable and way overrated.

      • BobinOz January 23, 2017, 7:15 pm | Link

        Well I had the cooler weather, a.k.a. absolutely freezing sometimes, cold enough to see my own breath, for nearly 50 years in the UK. After over nine years of loving the Brisbane climate, I’m nowhere near ready yet to move back to cold. Not sure I ever will be either.

  • Anthony January 2, 2017, 10:00 pm | Link

    Hi Bob,
    Horses for courses indeed. By temperature drop i meant that usually early in the morning during winter (my favourite season) when i go to work the temperature can be at single digits.
    One thing i forgot to comment is that your website has some really good info about the country that may help anyone who wants to move here. Good work. I think i will have a cold beer now.
    Regards

    • BobinOz January 3, 2017, 9:11 pm | Link

      Yes, that is true, it can be very cold first thing in the morning and for those tradies who set off at 6 o’clock in the morning, shorts might not be the best idea. But come late morning, most will wish they did have shorts on.

      One thing we do agree on though Anthony, beer is best served cold here. Thanks for the kind words, Bob.

  • Anthony January 1, 2017, 11:05 pm | Link

    Hi Bob,
    Please curb your enthusiasm about the hot weather here in Brisbane. It is simply rubbish. Live a few years here and you will see. It is more than 6 weeks of humidity sometimes it stretches all the way to March. Shorts all year round eh? Even in June July when the temperature drops? But i agree it is a personal choice and if you like that sort of thing then great. One more thing to note that not everyone has Air Con or a swimming pool or both. Heat can be tolerated but humidity takes the energy out of you. In times likes these Canada looks mighty good.
    Oh…Tasmania too !!
    Regards

    • BobinOz January 2, 2017, 6:23 pm | Link

      As much as I love your reference to ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’, one of my favourite TV shows ever, I’m afraid I can’t go along with it. I’m enthusiastic about Brisbane’s climate simply because I love it, it suits me down to the ground.

      Sometimes it is really hot and a bit too humid, like right now. Yesterday it was around 36°C during the day and was still hitting around 28° to 29° at night, so a fair bit clammier than I would like. But I can put up with it and for me it really does only seem to be around five or six weeks a year that it feels like this, all the other time I am just fine with it.

      By the way, I do have air-conditioning, but even last night as warm as it was I did not use it, we just had the fans on high in all the bedrooms with the windows open. And yes, I do wear shorts all year round, I’m not sure what you are talking about when you mention temperature drops. The lowest I’ve ever known it to be during the daytime here in Brisbane, note I have said daytime, is 15°C. On an average winter day we usually have 20°C, certainly 18° to 22°C.

      That’s shorts weather.

      After dark though, I have occasionally been known to put on long trousers. I am now in my 10th year living in Brisbane and I’m not changing my mind about the weather. I know it doesn’t suit everyone though, it certainly sounds as though it doesn’t suit you, but for me I’d definitely rather be here than anywhere else. Horses for courses…

  • Levi December 29, 2016, 1:47 am | Link

    Bit late to the party, only 1 year but felt the need to contribute

    Ha, I laugh in the face of what you Eastern Staters call ‘humidity’.
    The real heat and humidity of Australia is without a doubt, Western Australia, particularly the north tropical regions which I have lived for 3 years.
    The West is burdened with winds straight off central Australian deserts which bring dry hot conditions throughout W.A
    For example, the hottest recorded this year in my town was a mear 44 Celsius and now that it is mid summer, it means tropical humidity around 70-85% all day everyday alongside with temps at 30-40 Celsius.
    The weather is unbearable for those not used to it, which is why you will never see a tourist here in the warmer months, only the locals who still work all year round in the weather and know the secrets to surviving.
    A few cold beers and a hope to see the approaching thunderstorms bring rain.
    The West Australians are the toughest breed you will likely ever meet, and can go hours without water or food and still feel fine.
    Adaption is the key, and cold beer helps.

    • BobinOz December 29, 2016, 10:13 pm | Link

      Call that humidity? That sounds like a cool winters day to us here on the east! I don’t even take my puffer jacket and bobble hat off when it’s 44°C here, I like to keep those on until he gets to about 50° and the humidity is around 95%!! And at that point, I might just fancy a small sip of water.

      See, that’s what happens when somebody laughs in my face, I just can’t help myself 🙂

      Seriously though, I know I have it easy when it comes to humidity here in Brisbane, so what you have to go through up there sounds pretty tough going. I’m not sure I would fancy spending the summer where you live, but then again I wouldn’t want to spend summer in either Darwin or Cairns either, for example.

      Cold beer definitely helps though, that’s for sure, I’ve even noticed that down here in Brisbane 🙂

  • Todd October 17, 2015, 10:58 pm | Link

    Bob,

    It sounds like a nice situation. I do not tolerate “humid” very well and that figures into our decision to move to Geelong. But not as much as our winters. Here in Upstate New York we have had a typical extreme of -28c to 33c since January. We have high humidity for a few days each week in summers and almost no humidity in the winter. We also have lake effect snow (worth a wiki look up) that brought the usual 3 meters of snow this past winter (our record stands at 487cm). I am glad that Australia is capable of accommodating both of us, Bob.

    • BobinOz October 19, 2015, 5:06 pm | Link

      Well, yes, New York does go from one extreme to another in the space of a year, doesn’t it? You won’t be getting -28°C in Geelong that’s for sure, and you won’t have to worry too much about humidity down that way.

      Cheers, Bob

  • Warwick Wakefield October 15, 2015, 10:34 pm | Link

    There is something that you don’t hear too much about; in Sydney and Brisbane there are wonderful winters.

    Sometimes it’s cold, specially at night, but during the day there are wonderful blue skies and golden sun. This lifts your spirits, even if you have to rug up.

    In Sydney, and more so in Melbourne, there are cold winds from the south pole; the penguinnian winds. They can be cold; you see people wearing heavy overcoats and padded jackets. But you don’t go for very long without the sun and blue skies.

    In Brisbane and Sydney there is almost never any frost; that has to be a good thing. And many Brisbanites, like Bob, wear shorts all the year round. And that’s a good thing.

    I grew up on the Darling Downs, west of the mountain range to the west of Brisbane. There were many frosty mornings there.

    Now, my description of London weather is that it’s very mild. I remember thinking, when the first winter arrived, “This is very agreeable, not bitter at all..”
    But these assessments are subjective. Bob would have had a very different judgment.

    • BobinOz October 16, 2015, 9:12 pm | Link

      If you spend enough winters in London Warwick then I can assure you that you won’t be putting the word ‘not’ in front of bitter. Bitter is the precise description.

      Your face freezes, it’s difficult to smile, moving is uncomfortable but you know, deep down, that you have to keep moving otherwise you’ll never move again.

      That’s something that’s never happened to me in Brisbane 🙂

      Sunshine though, for sure, lifts the spirits, it puts a smile on your face. I think it does good things to that part of your brain that makes you happy.

      • klaud February 22, 2017, 3:52 am | Link

        I’ve spent half my life in christchurch NZ and half in brisbane, but back and forth. I climatised at a young age to the brisbane heat but after a few years stint in bris as an adult, went back to NZ for a year and upon coming back to bris, I can’t seem to climatise back into the humidity and it’s really REALLY bothersome. We’re currently experiencing the hottest summer and February on record with high humidity (85-90%) EVERY day with 30-34 degrees to boot. it’s effecting me so much that I cant control my hydration from sweating consistently throughout the entire days/nights. I don’t have air conditioning and can’t afford it so am sitting I front of a fan the entire day and not working or even have enough energy to wash the dishes some days. I also have sirvere dust allergies and dust mites happen to live only in humidity above 70%. So given the fact I also live in a 3rd floor brick (rough/untreated/not concealed brick-dust haven) unit with a train station below that’s also in construction platform replacement(concrete dust) which goes straight through screen windows. it’s the most awful summe I’ve ever had in my life and I have to move from here ASAP because of my allergies. I have to chose a new property with air con and I’ll be paying three times as much as I’m currently in state housing unit and only pay $95 pw. so if you have very low tolerance to humidity and dust is an issue, make sure not to run into hardship and require gov assistance! be prepared to suffer if that’s the case like us 🙁

        • BobinOz February 26, 2017, 11:15 pm | Link

          Hi Klaud

          I feel for you, I really do. I’ve only been here 10 years, but yes, this is the hottest summer we’ve had here in that time for sure. Even so, I’m still coping very well indeed, I’m not suffering any of the problems you are clearly going through.

          I suspect everyone is different on this one, well, they must be, otherwise no one would live in Darwin 🙂

          Even though it is as hot as it is here, I have only ever put my air-conditioning on during the day twice this year. At night, maybe six or seven times. My house is on a bit of a hill and catches some good breezes and all the windows are open all of the time. If I shut myself into a small room though with a very small window, also known as a toilet, it’s not long before I am sweating quite profusely.

          Other than that, I’ve not struggled, sorry to hear that you are. Humidity is a personal thing and everyone reacts differently to it. I suppose the only way to find out how you go with it is to give it a try. Thanks for taking the time to let us know how it for you, cheers, Bob

  • Warwick Wakefield October 15, 2015, 5:46 pm | Link

    Hi Bob,
    I appreciate your point of view. You’ve put it forward with great style.
    But liking a particular sort of weather is not a logical thing, like Euclid’s geometry.

    You have to understand that there are many people who find hot weather, particularly humid, hot weather, very stressful.
    And those same people can find English weather comfortable.
    I know. I’ve lived in London for years on end. I never found the winters very disagreeable. But I have had the experience of strolling along London streets, near Saint Paul’s, with an English friend who demanded that we go home because the cold was “intolerable,” even though she was rugged up. And I was quite warm.

    I’ve had the experience of swimming about in a harbour beach in Sydney and feeling refreshed and vigorous while my friend begged me to get out of the water “because she was freezing.”

    But I find the humidity stressful even in Sydney. I find it stressful even when my friend says it’s wonderful.

    I suppose it has something to do with the individual’s body mechanisms.
    I don’t think it does much good to say one kind of weather is intrinsically better than the other.
    Each person has to decide which is better for herself.

    • djmcbell October 15, 2015, 6:42 pm | Link

      Hmm… this, together with the article, are interesting.

      I’m (hopefully) moving to Victoria soon. My parents there have recently been having days topping 30 degrees. Here in the UK, Autumn has definitely begun (not that our summer was much to write home about).

      But I digress.

      One of the good – and bad – things about moving to Australia is the weather. Yes, it’ll be nice and warm. But what if it’s nice and warm all the time? Won’t we want a bit of variation? I suppose that’s one of the good things about Victoria (and the Melbourne area in general) – it is cooler that a lot of other places in Australia, and there is that variation.

      • BobinOz October 15, 2015, 9:26 pm | Link

        Well, firstly, Warwick, you are absolutely correct. Just like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is weather. Not so much in the eye, but throughout the whole body.

        Not everybody likes hot weather, some people much prefer cooler climates. It’s probably why some people live in Canada. So I take your point, in my defence my article is about me, (yes, me me me) and I would never attempt to speak on behalf of the whole world 🙂

        And, as you can probably see, I really like the Brisbane climate, it suits me down to the ground. Shorts all year round during the day, I don’t really suffer from the humidity stress you mention and it is greatly different from the weather I spent most of my life enduring.

        No, I’m not a great fan of the English weather. Don’t get me wrong, I do actually love the four seasons, what I don’t like is that each of them does a lot of cold, dark, grey and with some damp drizzle thrown in.

        And now djmcbell, I have great news for you; you’re going to Melbourne, so don’t worry, warm all the time isn’t going to happen. Expect cold, often, and when you least expect it.

        • Thijs October 15, 2015, 10:12 pm | Link

          I’ve moved from Belgium to Melbourne last year in july, and I must say it’s the perfect upgrade. Belgium’s exactly like the UK: you basically eventually get a depression just because of the weather. I enjoy the upgrade in average temperatures; but I reckon what makes for the most important difference is the amount of sun (light!), not temperature per se. Melbourne definitely has those changes though; 4 seasons in a day actually (you can take that quite literally at times). It’s just perfect (for me 😉 ).

          On the recent awesome temperatures: don’t take those as a reference. October’s supposed to have average temperatures of about 20 degrees, and should be the most rainy month of the year. This october is exceptionally hot and dry (and that brings us to one of those other Australian features: bushfires!). It’s just that we have [quote the meteorologists] “a godzilla el niño event” coming up this spring/summer. This october also nicely illustrated Melbourne’s capacity of drastic weather changes. One day we had a max. of 36 degrees, the next day (like, literally the day immediately afterwards) a max. of 16 degrees. Yes, that’s not even all that exceptional. ;-). But still clear blue skies throughout; which makes me not so much care about whether it is 16 or 36 degrees. As long as it’s not -5 and grey rain / mudsnow falling from the skies in several depressing grey cloudy weeks on end, like “back home in Belgium”.

          • BobinOz October 16, 2015, 9:05 pm | Link

            I know exactly what you are saying Thijs, I was in Melbourne a few years ago and when I first arrived, by car, it was around 36°C. A scorcher.

            Booked into a hotel, next day looked out of the window, which you could not open, and it was another sunny day. So I went out, T-shirt and shorts. Walked out of the front of the hotel and that’s when the cold hit me.

            16°!

            Ah, but it was still morning, it will surely get much warmer. No, not really, I should have doubled back and grabbed a warm top. Nevermind.

            As you say though, the sunlight, the blue skies, that’s what really makes the difference. I used to love a sunny winter’s day in the UK, you know, when it was 12° but at least still sunny with blue skies, but unfortunately most of the 12° days were grey and dark.

            Sunny is good, and there’s plenty of that in Melbourne. Cheers, Bob

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