Why using the "Wind Chill" is so Important - KMSP-TV

Why using the "Wind Chill" is so Important

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Meteorologist Cody Matz Meteorologist Cody Matz

Welcome to Minnesota 4 months out of the year… we get to talk about how cold it is AND how cold it actually feels. I realize that this leaves the cold open to interpretation… how can we possibly quantify what it feels like outside when our sensitivity to it is different from one person to the next? Well, we can't, but they developed a formula based on scientific research and personal experiences that gives a rough estimate of what it will feel like when you walk out the door. Why is this important?? Well, every 10 degree day is different just like every 90 degree day in the summer is different and scientists needed a simplistic way of showing it… so they developed the wind chill calculator.

As a human (or any other mammal for that matter) we produce heat and lose it in 4 different ways; convection, evaporation, conduction, and radiation. As we are warmer than the air around us the majority of the time, we influence our environment by warming the air directly in contact with our skin which will warm and heat the air around it… etc… until the process snowballs enough to where you have a nice warm pocket of air around you. Moving air disrupts this pocket allowing for cooler air to replace the warmer air that our bodies have created. The faster the wind speed, the faster and more efficiently this air and our bodies cool. This is why every 10 degree day is different with it "feeling" so much colder when you have a 45 mph wind versus a 5 mph wind. So scientists were able to develop a system to quantify just how much colder it really feels.

Here is that system. A simplistic graph that gives you temperatures on the top and wind speeds on the left… combine them to get the wind chill. So, looking at the chart… 10 degrees with a 5 mph wind will make it feel like 1 degree. Meanwhile, 10 degrees with a 45 mph wind will make it feel like 16 below zero. This is the system we can use to know and understand when it becomes dangerous to be outside for long periods in the winter and something meteorologists use often to help us all understand just how warmly we need to dress.

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