Weather Blog: Can the weather actually assist baseball players in hitting home runs?

Weather Blog

The short answer is yes. The assistance provided by the weather is fairly weak though, with most of the work done by the player and bat.

So how does the weather help our team hit a homer? It has to do with the density of the air. The baseball will travel further when the air is less dense. Ok we need the air to be less dense, but how is this accomplished? There are 2 different ways to effectively lower the density of the atmosphere. Before we jump into the explanation though, here’s a quick science lesson.

What is Density?

Density by definition is the total mass of something divided by the total of volume of something. In our case that something is the atmosphere.

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Dry air is comprised mostly of nitrogen and oxygen. The atomic mass of diatomic nitrogen (N2) is 28g/mol while the atomic mass of diatomic oxygen (O2) is 32g/mol.

Water vapor (H2O) is comprised of 2 molecules of hydrogen and one molecule of oxygen. Hydrogen has the lightest atomic weight of all elements at 1 g/mol. The total atomic weight of water vapor then is 18 g/mol.

Mathematically, it makes sense that the more water vapor molecules that you add to the air the lighter the overall mass of the air would become. Less mass per volume of air means a lower density.

The other way to decrease the density would be to increase the temperature. The increase in temperature is matched by an increase in volume. Increasing the volume of the air while keeping the mass the same would result in a smaller value of density.

Back to Baseball

After our quick study of density, the best conditions for home runs in the atmosphere would be hot and humid. This of course, is NOT the best conditions for the fans. The hot temperatures increase the volume while the increase in humidity decreases the mass. This makes creates a very low air density.

The lower density of the air allows the ball to travel further by providing less air resistance or drag. Drier air due to its increase in weight also increases the drag force exerted on the baseball. Just as the increase in drag limits the amount of lift on an aircraft, the increased drag on the baseball slightly limits the length of its flight toward the fence.

In a hot and humid atmosphere, the air molecules are lighter and more spread out. These conditions allow minimal drag force to be exerted on the ball. This means on a hot and humid day, our players can crush the ball and enjoy minimal drag force as it flies out of Baum-Walker! It’s OUTTA HERE!

In summary if you want the Diamond Hogs to have a better chance at smashing a home run, you want the air to be hot and humid!

For other educational and interesting digital weather content, check out other Weather 101 and Weather Blog pieces.

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