Is 20 Degrees Celsius Hot or Cold?

Is 20 Degrees Celsius Hot or Cold?

You’re traveling overseas, you use Fahrenheit, and you’re wondering if 20 degrees Celsius is hot or cold. Or you use metric units but are wondering whether 20 degrees Celsius means cold weather or warm weather. In both cases, this article will answer your question. We’ll go through temperature conversions and learn how to interpret the Celsius scaled as for air temperature and water temperature.

20 Degrees Celsius in Fahrenheit

First things first for US readers: what is 20 degrees Celsius in Fahrenheit? It’s 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whatever temperature you want to convert into Fahrenheit, you can use Google to perform temperature conversions.

Simply enter in the search bar “[x] C to F” ([x] being the temperature in Celsius). Google will understand your intent, converting Celsius to Fahrenheit.

You can also do it in reverse, translating Fahrenheit to Celsius by typing “[x] F to C.” Now that we know how to easily convert temperatures, let’s talk about something a bit more difficult to understand.

How to Interpret Celsius Temperatures?

Celsius is based on the freezing and boiling points of water. 0 °C is the freezing point and 100 °C is the boiling point. The key to understanding Celsius is this relationship with freezing water and boiling water.

20 °C thus looks closer to cold but remember that air temperature rarely goes above 50 °C and in most places, rarely above 40 °C. And the average body temperature is around 36-37 °C.

Switching between Celsius and Fahrenheit temperatures can be tricky. For a super quick understanding of how different Celsius air temperatures feel, here’s my subjective temperature scale:

  • -10 °C and lower: extremely cold temperatures
  • zero degrees to -10: very cold (Note that zero degrees in Fahrenheit would be -18 degrees Celsius while 0 degrees Celsius is 32 degrees Fahrenheit; people using the metric system thus have a different understanding of “below zero.” Be careful how people measure temperature as subzero temperatures in Fahrenheit are much colder than subzero temperatures in Celsius)
  • 0-5 °C: cold weather
  • 5-10 °C: chilly weather
  • 10-15 °C: cool weather
  • 15-20 °C: mild weather
  • 20-25 °C: warm weather
  • 25-30 °C: warm to hot weather
  • 30-35 °C: hot weather
  • 35-40 °C: very hot weather
  • 40 °C and more: extremely hot weather

These are rough, subjective definitions. For people from a cooler climate (like the United Kingdom), anything above 25 degrees Celsius may already be very hot. For people from a warmer climate (like Spain), anything below 20 degrees Celsius can be already cold.

Is a Temperature of 20 Degrees Celsius Hot or Cold?

Is a Temperature of 20 Degrees Celsius Hot or Cold?

Now, how do we categorize an air temperature of 20 degrees Celsius? Is 20 degrees hot or cold?

The answer is that it’s neither.

20 degrees Celsius (or 68 degrees Fahrenheit for that matter) is considered “mild weather” which I described in more detail in my article What Does “Mild Weather” Mean?

Just like it’s hard to decide whether lukewarm water is cold or hot, so is it difficult to say whether 20 degrees Celsius means colder or warmer weather.

Think of this temperature as “neutral” weather.

For most people, this temperature is moderate enough that it doesn’t make them feel either cold or hot. You can wear just some basic layers: a t-shirt and shorts, a skirt and a top, a summer dress, or a shirt and long pants and you won’t feel the need to put on more layers or remove them because you’re sweating.

A room temperature of 20 °C is a relatively comfortable temperature for most people assuming they aren’t sedentary all the time.

What about water temperature? For most people, 20 degrees Celsius is too cold for a comfortable swim. It’s not very cold but most people can’t jump straight into it without cold water shock.

Those more accustomed to colder temperatures (for example people living in the UK where maximum water temperatures usually reach only 18 °C) may find 20 °C warm, if not hot.

20 Degrees Celsius Don’t Tell the Whole Story

While 20 degrees Celsius generally means mild weather, there’s a caveat. There are several important factors that influence whether the weather feels cold or hot. The main ones are:

  • Time of year and sun intensity – 20 °C in the summer feels warmer than in the winter. The higher the sun is, the stronger its rays are, giving more heat.
  • Cloud cover – 20 °C on a cloudy day will feel colder than on a sunny day. Likewise, standing in the shade will feel cooler than standing in the sun.
  • Humidity – with high humidity (above 70%) 20 °C can already feel hot. Meanwhile, with low humidity (30% or less) it may feel cool.
  • Wind – the stronger the wind is, the colder it is. 20 °C on a windless day will be pleasant compared to the same temperature with wind of 40 km/h (or 25 mph).
  • Water reflection – water reflects sun rays, increasing solar radiation and heat. You’ll feel hotter near a body of water if it reflects sun rays on you.

These factors have a big impact on whether 20 degrees Celsius feels mild or whether it feels hotter or colder.

If you’re on vacation in Italy in July and it’s a cool summer day with 20 °C, it’ll feel much warmer than the same temperature on an atypical warm January day. The reason for that is that you won’t feel much heat coming from the winter sun. Meanwhile, summer sun is strong, and even more so in Italy or elsewhere in southern Europe.

Or let’s say that you’re enjoying the beach in Greece in the early morning. Wearing just swim trunks or a bikini in 20 °C may be perfectly fine for that early morning beach fun. But if you were to go on a sailing cruise on a windy morning, you’ll likely feel cold without a long sleeve or even a jacket.

For the final example, Norway on a humid (80%) summer day with 20 °C will feel much hotter than the same temperature in Austria with 20% humidity. For people sensitive to humidity, even such a mild temperature can already make them feel miserable if humidity is so high.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is 20 degrees Celsius too hot for jeans?

For most people, such temperature won’t be too hot for jeans unless they’re standing in the strong sun on a day with high humidity. You may not be comfortable, though, if you’re going to move a lot.

Is 20 degrees Celsius warm enough to sunbathe?

Assuming a day with little to no wind and strong summer sun, 20 degrees Celsius is warm enough to sunbathe.

Is 20 degrees Celsius warm enough for shorts?

Unless you’re particularly sensitive to cold, shorts should be fine assuming it’s not a windy, cloudy day.

What to wear in 20 degrees Celsius?

For most people, a t-shirt, shirt or a long sleeve combined with shorts, pants, or a skirt will be a good choice. A summer dress may be fine as well, assuming it’s not a cloudy, windy day.

Is 20 degrees Celsius hot enough for the beach?

If it’s not a windy, cloudy day, 20 degrees may be sufficient for a comfortable day at the beach assuming it’s spring, summer or fall. In the winter, the heat provided by the sun may not be enough to be comfortably warm at the beach, particularly if you plan to picnic and not move around much.

Why does 20 degrees Celsius feel cold in the winter?

Sun is much higher in the sky in the summer which increases solar intensity. This, in turn, makes the weather feel hotter. In the winter, when the sun is much lower in the sky, it doesn’t provide as much heat.

Is 20 degrees Celsius at night hot?

For many people, a night with 20 degrees means that it’s going to be a sweaty night unless they use air conditioning, a fan, or open windows to create a draft.

Is 20 degrees Celsius jacket weather?

It may be, if it’s a cloudy or rainy day with strong wind. A sunny, dry summer day is too hot to wear a jacket.

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