WIND CHILL: What is it really? What does it do? - KMSP-TV

WIND CHILL: What is it really? What does it do?

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

For all the Minnesotans trying to avoid those blustery gusts of wind, Fox 9 News found one who left work early just to get blown around a bit while kite boarding on Lake Calhoun.

"You only have a certain amount of time with the wind, and it's really unpredictable," Charles Kaul explained.

Simply seeing Kaul board his way across frozen Lake Calhoun drives home the point: Wind-chill is subjective.

The wind-chill formula has evolved over decades -- from Antarctica in the 1940s when wind-chill was never tested on people to the 1980s when Canadian scientists bundled up volunteers and put them to the test. Finally, the entire formula was revised once more in 2001 -- and despite some critics out there, Fox 9 Chief Meteorologist Ian Leonard says wind-chill is very real and can be dangerous.

"The way wind-chill works: Our body has the ability to warm a little micro layer of air next to your skin. The wind takes it away. My body says, 'Oh, I want to replace that. I'm going to try and warm that up again,'" Leonard explained. "The stronger the wind, the quicker that micro layer is whisked away -- and your body works harder and harder and harder."

At some point, the body will give up and pull warm blood from fingers and toes in order to protect the core. That's where frostbite comes in -- and the risk rises exponentially when the wind chills dip as low as they will overnight because frostbite only takes between 5 to 10 minutes or less to set in on exposed flesh at those temperatures.

"I always tell people, 'You are running and you miss your bus. What are you going to do?" Leonard asked.

What everyone should do is prepare by dressing in layers and limiting outdoor exposure as much as possible when wind chills dip below zero.

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