Frank's Weather or Not: Feeling Hot? Blame George!


Houston, TX – George Winterling first came up with what I call the "Feels Like" temperature, or Heat Index, in the late 70s.

He is the same age as my dad (he even has a son named “Frank”), they both served in the Air Force, and they both lived in Jacksonville, Florida during Hurricane Dora. That is where it stops except that George was the TV Meteorologist in those days until he retired from our sister station, WJXT, in 2009.

George earned his meteorology degree after his Air Force years, went to work for the National Weather Service and watched a devastating Hurricane Donna come ashore in South Florida in 1960. The lack of warning convinced him to pitch his abilities to television execs claiming "the media needed knowledgeable persons doing weathercasts in times of emergencies" such as hurricanes. They agreed and George is the man who got me, my dad, mom, and sister through Hurricane Dora in 1964!


His weather career is marked with as many firsts as awards (you can get a copy of his book “Chasing the Wind” here) and he began the practice of forecasting Rainfall Probability---you know, those percentages for rain that we love in Houston! We can appreciate that and this: George first came up with what I call the “Feels Like” temperature, or Heat Index in the late 70s. George named his formula “Humiture” and since George is a Facebook friend of mine, I reached out to ask him just where he came up with this “Humiture”.

Here’s what he told me: “Frank -After reporting the day's high temperature day after day I came to realize that days with low humidity/dew point did not feel as hot as days with high humidity/dew point. I picked out dew points of 65 degrees as the boundary between less sultry days and very stifling heat. When the dew point was below 65 I subtracted those degrees from the temperature. A day with a high of 90 and a dew point of 60 would feel like 90 degrees. When the dew point was 75 degrees, I added 10 degrees to the temperature and said the day felt like 100 degrees. I printed cards with the feel-like temperatures (called Humiture) and mailed them to newspapers over the central and eastern parts of the U.S. The next year NOAA started the Heat Index which was remarkably similar to the Humiture.

So how does this work in real life? Let’s take what we’re seeing these afternoons, for example last Wednesday at 4pm:

A Temperature of 88° with a Dewpoint temperature of 77° using George’s formula would give us a Humiture of 100° (77 – 65 = 12; therefore, 88 + 12 = 100).  The relative humidity at that hour was 71% and using the NWS calculation we would have a Heat Index of 101° while the NWS dewpoint calculation renders….100°. Exactly the same as George’s formula! By the way, here is the NWS formula (take your pick):

Heat Index = -42.379 + 2.04901523T + 10.14333127R - 0.22475541TR - 6.83783 x 10-3T2 - 5.481717 x 10-2R2 + 1.22874 x 10-3T2R + 8.5282 x 10-4TR2 - 1.99 x 10-6T2R2

T - air temperature (F)

R - relative humidity (percentage)


So, there you have it…like all enterprising ideas, George found a better way to communicate to his viewers how sultry those summer days can be! And that’s just one of the reasons George Winterling is a legend in Jacksonville and the meteorological community.


On a hurricane note, NOAA released their 2019 forecast yesterday:

9-15 Named Storms, 4-8 of those becoming hurricanes and 2-4 of those being Major Cat 3 or higher. They are weighing the ongoing El Nino, warm Atlantic waters, and a strong West African Monsoon which can send more storms into the Atlantic to develop into tropical cyclones. 

But all is QUIET right now!

Have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend, whatever it Feels Like!!



Have an idea or question I can explore in this blog? Email me! frank@kprc.com.

About the Author: