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Q: Why are the US coasts so different regarding summer humidity? ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: Why are the US coasts so different regarding summer humidity?
Category: Science > Earth Sciences
Asked by: rhapsody777-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 23 Feb 2006 11:53 PST
Expires: 25 Mar 2006 11:53 PST
Question ID: 700043
In the United States, it's well known that generally speaking, the jet
stream flows from west to east.  One would assume that that the air
accompanying an easterly flowing jet stream that also runs over water
before hitting the US would tend to pick up and carry moisture.  If
that's true then why is the west coast (let's talk about southern
California, for instance) generally void of humidity in the
summer....but the east coast is saturated with humidity despite giving
the jet stream/air the entire width of the US to get rid of it??
Subject: Re: Why are the US coasts so different regarding summer humidity?
Answered By: sublime1-ga on 23 Feb 2006 13:08 PST

I don't think jet streams have much to do with it. There are
two major jet streams which run east to west, the polar and 
the subtropical. Both derive their power from the temperature
differentials between the continental region and the polar to
the north or the subtropical to the south. Both are at elevations
of 25,000 to 30,000 feet above the U.S. Both are relatively 
inactive in the summer, with the subtropical jet stream being
barely discernible, according to this article from USA Today:

These jet streams are much too high (5-6 miles) to pick up 
humidity from the ground, and are the least active in the
summertime, peaking in the winter, when the temperature
differential between the zones is the highest.

The main difference seems to be the temperature of the
oceans on the two coasts during summertime, as noted in
this question answered by Josh Larson of the
weather team on the following page:

"...the average water temperature off Newport Beach, Calif.,
 in the first part of August is 70 degrees while at the same
 time the Atlantic Ocean off Myrtle Beach, S.C., averages 83

 Now let's see what these big differences in water temperatures
 mean for air temperatures. If you go to the our current
 conditions and forecasts for Newport Beach and Myrtle Beach,
 and then click on the link to 'Monthly Averages' at the bottom
 of each city's page, you'll learn the average high and low in
 Newport Beach in August are 73 and 64 degrees, while in Myrtle
 Beach they are 89 and 70.

 We said wind direction makes a big difference. In both places,
 winds off the ocean are cooler than those from over the land.
 During the summer both places often receive a sea breeze.
 Obviously such a breeze will cool Newport Beach more than
 Myrtle Beach since the California breeze is blowing over much
 cooler water."
See about a quarter of the way down the page:

Think of it as the difference between standing next to a 
bathtub full of hot water and cool water, and the difference
in humidity in the two locations becomes more obvious.

Please do not rate this answer until you are satisfied that  
the answer cannot be improved upon by way of a dialog  
established through the "Request for Clarification" process. 
A user's guide on this topic is on skermit-ga's site, here: 

Additional information may be found from an exploration of
the links resulting from the Google searches outlined below.

Searches done, via Google:

"jet stream" humidity

humidity "east coast" "west coast" "jet stream"
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