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Breaking down the increase in static electricity heading into late fall

Temperatures are continuing too cool as we head deeper into the fall season. This also means the relative humidity will also decrease on average as the days continue. Throughout summer, increased levels of moisture in the atmosphere allow for charges to be dissipated more regularly from the human body. This means excess positive protons are conducted away.

As temperatures cool heading into late fall and winter, the relative humidity decreases meaning there is less moisture in the atmosphere. Excess charges are no longer able to be conducted away from the body leading to an increase in protons on ones clothing.

Whenever a person then goes to make contact with another person or object that has an excess of negative electrons, a shocking sting occurs. This "shock" is the exchange of charges to create an equilibrium between the two objects in contact. At times, this shock can be seen as a flash of light resembling that of lighting.

A way to decrease chances of static build-up is by using drier sheets whenever machine drying clothes, or by just rubbing it against clothes with your hand. This will discharge any excessive charges to create an equilibrium so a sudden exchange that typically happens wont create that jolting shock.

Another tip is by installing humidifiers in your home. Whenever your furnace brings in outside air that is dry, it makes conditions even worse. The furnace will increase the air temperature, while not increasing the relative humidity. This means that dry and cold outside air, becomes even drier and warmer air. This leads to more static electricity. The humidifier will allow moisture back into the air increasing the relative humidity to more manageable levels.

The final tip includes putting warmer water in bowls and placing these bowls in room around the house. The evaporation of the water in the bowl will act as a cheap humidifier increasing the relative humidity also.

Article Topic Follows: Weather
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Chance Gotsch

Chance Gotsch grew up just south of St. Louis and moved to Columbia to attend the University of Missouri to pursue a degree in Atmospheric Sciences.

His interest in weather begin as a child when he used to be afraid of storms. Years later, he purchased a weather forecasting book and weather station at his elementary Scholastic Book Fair. After reading into the hows and whys of atmospheric science, he quickly became interested and gained his new passion.

Chance joined the ABC17 Stormtrack Weather Team in February of 2021. He is currently the weekday Noon Meteorologist.


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