Will warmer, humid weather bring an end to the coronavirus?

Coronavirus CDC image
Coronavirus CDC image (CDC)

HOUSTON – As the novel coronavirus continues to secure its foothold on the United States, we all wonder how the pandemic caused by the new virus will play out and, eventually, end. The simple answer to that question is that nobody knows for sure. This is a new virus. Scientists are only beginning the process to understand how it works and there is a long way to go.

But, the novel coronavirus does fall into a family of viruses that we DO understand. And, while we can’t assume that it will act the same, we can hypothesize how it MIGHT act.

Chief Meteorologist Frank Billingsley wrote about this very subject in his Weather Blog in late February, just as the novel coronavirus began its ramp-up in the U. S. What he has to say is worth repeating. Here it is:

Will either the heat or humidity help with the Covid-19, popularly known as Coronavirus? Well, understand that the common cold and the flu are also in the category of “coronavirus” and so it’s natural to look at how colds and the flu are transmitted from person to person. We usually see more cold/flu increase in the winter because people gather together more often indoors as opposed to warmer months. So just getting away from each other might be part of the solution in terms of transmission.

People gather more indoors in winter

These cold and flu viruses are person-to-person airborne transmissions so the air itself will make a difference. Dry air tends to support viruses floating around while humid air, with more water droplets, has those airborne viruses falling to the ground. Thus, humid air may help slow infection rates. Fewer virus molecules in the air the better. Check that “good” box for Houston.

In addition, studies do indicate that such viruses do not live as well in hot weather as cold (consider that this whole thing started in the winter months in China). Of course, just how hot can matter and we’re not going to get extremely hot until summer. We are, however, expecting a warmer than normal March to May across much of the country:

Let’s hope the heat helps.

Covid-19′s big concern is that it transmits quickly and easily from person to person. And while Spring may be a more hostile host for this virus, those months are big travel times whether it’s school breaks, conferences, or seeking a break from winter’s cold weather. THAT will bring more people together which will cause more infections. We may not be as close to each other as in winter, but there will be more of us from different parts of the country and world congregating.

Let’s hope for a quick vaccine. Bluebonnets die at the end of Spring. Covid-19 is not likely to just wither the same way.

About the Authors:

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with three decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.

Meteorologist, runner, triathlete and proud Houstonian.