Understanding Wind Chill - KMOV.com

Understanding Wind Chill

You often hear us talk about wind chill in the winter Most of you know that it essentially refers to what the temperature "feels like" due to the cold temperatures combined with the wind. But why is this so important?

As winds increase, heat is carried away from the body faster, thus cooling the skin temperature and eventually internal body temperature. Exposure to low wind chills can be harmful to you and your pet. Prolonged exposure can cause frostbite, hypothermia, or death. Infants and the elderly are most susceptible to extreme cold.

Frostbite occurs when the skin actually freezes. Symptoms include a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities. Hypothermia can occur when the body temperature drops below 95 degrees F. A person will become disoriented, confused, and shiver uncontrollably, eventually leading to drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. In severe cases, death is possible.

One of the things you can do to help prevent frostbite and hypothermia is make sure you dress properly. Wear layers of clothing. Air trapped between the layers help keep you warm. Protect the hands, feet and ears as they are most susceptible. And wear a hat as much of the body's heat is lost through the top of the head.

In the graphic below, you can determine the wind chill based on temperature and wind speed. Note the highlighted areas taking up most of the right half of the graphic. These indicate how long you can be outside before frostbite sets in. The colder the windchill, the shorter amount of time you can be exposed.

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