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Explaining Wind Chill | Weather Blog

When the temperatures really start to drop in winter, you’ll often hear us talk about wind chill. Often when we talk about “what does the air look like” we get a lot of questions about what it really means. A lot of times people will tell us that they think we’re making it up or it’s some kind of scare tactic to make the cold air colder. It’s not. Wind chill is a real thing that was developed to help us better understand how cold air and wind are more harmful to your body than that same level of cold.

According to the National Weather Service who developed this chart and the wind chill equation, “Wind chill is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin caused by wind and cold. When the wind increases, it pulls body heat, driving the temperature of the skin and possibly the internal temperature of the body. Therefore, the wind makes it much colder.” It is important to note that wind chill should only be considered for people and animals. When the wind is strong in cold weather, it will cool your pipes and your car faster. But the wind chill is meant to demonstrate what wind and cold will feel on skin, not on inanimate objects.

Take today as an example:


At their highest, temperatures soared into the upper 30s for most of you on Saturday afternoon. This is the number you will read on the thermometer outside on your back patio. We also had wind gusts over 30 mph, and the wind was blowing consistently 10-20 mph most of the afternoon.


This made the air feel like the upper 20s and low 30s at the hottest time of the day.


The air was also incredibly dry on Saturday. Although this is not factored into determining the value of wind chill, it certainly affects how the air feels in your body. This is the reason why you found yourself reaching for the lip balm more often or noticed your hands starting to crack.


Still not convinced? Here’s more information from the National Weather Service on how their calculator calculates wind chill based on temperature and wind speed:

From the user, we are given an air temperature (T) and a wind speed (Windsfc).

In order to calculate wind chill, the temperature must be converted to degrees Fahrenheit (°F). Also, to calculate wind chill, wind speed must be converted to miles per hour (mph).

Then the wind chill can be calculated using this formula:

Wind chill = 35.74 + (0.6215 × T) − (35.75 × Windsfc^0.16 ) + (0.4275 × T × Windsfc^0.16 )