What is the wind chill?

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By: Charles Roop | WCTV Pinpoint Weather
Feb. 21, 2020

Bundle up! Temperatures in the teens return Tuesday, Dec.10. (Photo: Pixaby)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – The chill was here Friday morning. Temperatures were in the 40s, but it felt much colder with wind gusts of 20 mph or greater.

But what makes the wind feel much worse?

When someone is outside, especially for a longer period of time, the wind removes heat from exposed skin, whether it's your exposed hands or face. This makes it feel colder than the actual air temperature. And, if the temperatures are low enough, frostbit could occur.

The way to measure what it might feel like to us humans is the wind chill. It was revised in the 2000s after some in the weather community believed that the original scale was flawed. The wind chill scale includes the surface temperature and wind speed as variables. Once those are thrown in, the output indicates the wind chill. Depending on the weather pattern at hand, just looking at the values may give one the chills without being outside.

But it’s not perfect, according to the authors of a paper published in 2005. The construction of the equation and constants given are based on one’s facial skin temperature, which can vary according to the authors. It would also depend on a person’s activity and wind direction. The time of the day and location would also vary the effects on a human.

“Wind chill is not a neat and simple package,” authors Randall Osczevski and Maurice Bluestein wrote. “However, the public seems to have a strong preference for the equivalent temperature format […], a deceptive simplification that only seems to be easier to understand.”

Regardless, it gives one a clue as to how bundled someone should be before heading out the door.

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