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All About Weather

Hitting the long ball: What weather is best?

Two rows of seats in a sports stadium.

It’s summer. It’s baseball season. Millions of people attend Major League games, just waiting for their favorite hitter to knock one into the seats. Fans contend with afternoon games that may be hot and muggy or just simply hot. I once went to a Rangers game while attending a conference where the temperature at the start of the game was 103°. 

Does it make a difference what the weather is like for hitting home runs? You often hear broadcasters talking about the “heavy air” on a muggy day. Does muggy air reduce the chances of a home run?

What causes muggy air?

Muggy air means there’s a lot of water vapor in the air. Water vapor is the gas form of water. Water vapor content in air can vary depending on location and whether there’s a source to provide evaporated water. The Gulf of Mexico provides a great source of water vapor. Winds can blow this air easily into the Midwest and Southeast portions of the U.S. Other areas like Arizona are cut off from a big source of water vapor, so they can have hot air, but it’s dry.

Water vapor capacity changes with temperature

The warmer air is, the more water vapor it can hold. Ninety degree air can hold a much greater quantity of water vapor than 30 degree air can. 

When it’s summer and that hot air is holding a lot of water vapor, evaporation of sweat off our skin doesn’t occur as quickly. That evaporation helps remove heat from our bodies. We can sweat a lot, but if it’s not evaporating quickly. We get hot and uncomfortable, and it can lead to heat exhaustion or worse.

Muggy air and home run chances

Here’s the thing about water vapor. When there is a lot of water vapor present, heavier gases like nitrogen and oxygen are moved out of the way. Water molecules, being lighter, makes the air less dense. That means during a muggy day, the air has less resistance to an object moving through it, such as a baseball. Therefore, it’s a little easier to slam one out on those hot muggy days.

So, when you are out in the bleacher seats sweating it out waiting for one to come your way, just keep in mind there’s a little better chance of it happening compared a warm dry day. In either case, keep hydrated.


ABOUT THE BLOG: All About Weather is a blog by Duane Friend that explores the environment, climate, and weather topics for Illinois. Get in-depth information about things your weather app doesn't cover from summer droughts to shifting weather patterns. Never miss a new post! Sign up for our email list.

MEET THE AUTHOR: Duane Friend is the Illinois Master Naturalist Coordinator and Climate Specialist with University of Illinois Extension, serving the organization in many roles since 1993. Duane provides information and educational programs to adult and youth audiences in the areas of soil quality, weather and climate, energy conservation, and disaster preparedness. These programs provide practical solutions for families, farms, and communities.  He assists families in creating a household emergency plan, farmers with the implementation of soil management and conservation practices, and local government officials and business owners with energy conservation techniques.