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I live at 53 degrees latitude, where the effect of being caught out in the rain and getting wet is always to become uncomfortably cold.

However, I would expect this to depend on the ambient temperature. Looking at videos of heavy showers of rain in the tropics, my intuition says being caught out in them would result in severe chill, but that intuition was trained at high latitude, and might not be at all accurate in the tropics.

How high does the ambient temperature need to get before being caught out in the rain (wearing just a T-shirt, not a waterproof jacket or suchlike) stops being hazardous or unpleasant, and becomes neutral or welcome? Is such a temperature often encountered in the tropics?

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    The climate at 53° latitude highly depends on where you are. Northern Germany and southern Alaska are both around that latitude, but the climate in summer is very different.
    – PMF
    Apr 26 at 11:39
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    @PMF The climate in winter is very different, the climate in summer is quite similar. Prince George, (CA-BC) has the same latitude as Hamburg (DE-HH). July max: 23.1°C in Prince George, 22.1°C in Hamburg. Rainfall 61 mm in Prince George, 77 mm in Hamburg. Records (high and low) are somewhat more extreme in Prince George, but generally speaking, summer climate is not that different at all. For large climate differences, rather consider the East Coast, where St. Anthony (CA-NL; similar latitude as Hamburg or Prince George) is 6°C colder in July and August.
    – gerrit
    Apr 26 at 12:16
  • I +1'd the question, it's interesting, but I think "hazardous" is different from "unpleasant" in a way "neutral" is not different from "welcome". I live at about 51.5, -0.12. I tend to think of "rain is unpleasant if you didn't dress correctly". I'll enjoy it if I know I can get warm soon tho!. But hazardous = dangerous = I might get harmed = I'd never expect it here (given cities, life experience, etc.) Your question seems to ignore "are there cities/roads/houses I could go to" around. But in many places that's unrealistic. My point: in the tropics, surely the same things apply. Apr 27 at 17:32
  • @lessthanideal, OP just acknowledged, that at some point cold rain can be dangerous (undoubtedly). And yes, the possibility of going inside is ignored. But that is just an entirely different question to ask.
    – Max
    Apr 28 at 7:22

2 Answers 2

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I'd say, very hard to answer as it depends on a lot of factors, especially personal preference (e.g. I get cold if I'm tired or hungry). Other factors would include exposure time, wind, sunny/cloudy, activity, previous acclimatization. I think a combination of these would result in a range of somewhere around 10°C where it doesn't feel unpleasant.

Anecdotal evidence: Lived in India for some time. For me it was somewhere around the 24°C where it wasn't unpleasant anymore. But if it is overcast, humid (i.e. clothes don't dry fast) and you are cycling somewhere (windchill) and it rains continuously, it can get cold quite fast. If you are used to 30°C weather, it feels quite cold when it drops down to 22°C. On the other hand during summer monsoon, you might get a 10 minute downpour, clouds move on, sun comes out and it's back to 30°C. This can be quite nice because you dry of very quickly (at which point you have to deal with extremely high humidity).

Is such a temperature often encountered in the tropics?

If we consider 30°C the point where rain definitely isn't uncomfortably cold, yes, that happens quite often. If, for example we look at the climate diagram for Chennai, India, where the main rainy season is on October and November, which coincides with an average high of 30+°C. Of course, rain usually means a slight drop in temperature, but you get the picture.

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    +1 I agree with your statement about 30 degrees C (86 degrees F), but take issue with the "range of 10 degrees C." That would mean that rain might be comfortable at 20 degrees (68 degrees F), and I think many people would find that uncomfortable, especially if the exposure were prolonged.
    – ab2
    Apr 26 at 17:44
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    Living in a much colder climate, where 24C is a very hot summer day, a 20C rain is rather lovely unless there are very high winds, or exposure is multiple hours/all day.
    – Leliel
    Apr 27 at 2:48
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    @ab2, yeah on second thought, 10° might me a little high, 7-8° maybe seems more resonable.
    – Max
    Apr 27 at 7:55
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    @Leliel With or without some kind of jacket and/or hood?
    – nasch
    Apr 28 at 19:29
  • @nasch The lighter the clothing the better. Something that will soak through and dry quickly.
    – Leliel
    Apr 29 at 2:49
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I live quite a bit further north than that, and my main complaint about getting caught in the rain is to get wet. Scotland is notorious for having some very wet days.

But rain rarely gets cold here as the air temperatures tend to vary between around 0C in winter to 20C in summer (can be colder in the mountains etc). The coldest precipitation is when we get sleet - that lovely combination of snow and rain that can happen just around 0C. Combined with a high wind this can cause significant wind chill.

So I'm assuming if you get cold rain at lower latitudes you must be further from the coast, so your cooling is going to be unrelated to latitude, or at least less impacted by latitude.

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  • Brrrrrr and more Brrrrrr
    – ab2
    Apr 26 at 20:20
  • @ab2 - Scotland is slightly too warm for me, so all those countries closer to the equator are fine for short periods, but I find those high temperatures rather stressful.
    – Rory Alsop
    Apr 27 at 17:38
  • Oh right! you have Antarctic explorer genes!
    – ab2
    Apr 27 at 18:56

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