Thursday, March 26, 2020

Indianapolis 500 moved to August; Closer look at weather conditions for the race

If you have not already heard the Indianapolis 500 has been rescheduled for August 23, from its usual Memorial Day weekend, this year due to COVID19 concerns.

The first thought I had after hearing the news was, "It is going to miserably hot and humid for the race."  Many fans that attend the race will say that it is often hot for the race.  In fact, there have been six race days in which the temperature has reached 90°.  Interestingly, when looking back at weather records for August 23 in Indianapolis the temperature has reached 90° on 23 days.

The biggest impact to race fans attending the race will be the humidity.  My original thought was that it would be more humid in late August compared to late May.  After combing through the data it turns out that on average the dew point temperature (measure of moisture in the air) is higher in late August than in late May.

To come up with the numbers I looked at hourly dew point data collected between Noon and 5pm on August 23 and May 30 from 1980 to 2019.  (Yes, the race is not always run on the 30th, but that is the arbitrary date I selected.)  Here are the averages for each day.

May 30:  58.8°
August 23:  62.3°

Typically once the dew point climbs above 60° it begins to feel uncomfortable.  Once the dew point reaches 70° it feels tropical and oppressive.  So lets look at how many years had an hourly dew point reading of 70°+.

May 30:  5 years
August 23:  9 years

Does this mean that this August 23 will be more humid?  No, not absolutely.  However, historically speaking, the odds are in favor of it being more humid.

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