Were the Wind Chills Really Colder When We Were Kids?

Weather Whys

It’s invisible, it can hurt you and it’s measured every day by weather computers around the world… we’re talking about the wind chill.

You may remember when you were younger, enduring wind chills way colder than what we now normally feel on a given winter day. While you’re right, you’re also wrong. Here’s why…

The original wind chill chart is based on data from two researchers named Paul Siple and Charles Passel. in 1945, they were on an Antarctic expedition and used a small plastic bottle suspended from their roof and noted the time it took to freeze. Or the time it took for heat to transfer from the water to the air in order for it to freeze.

There’s been a lot of criticism in this method. First, it doesn’t take into account the internal temperature of the water before freezing. The freezing process would be slowed down greatly if the water was warm. They also used wind that was just under 33 ft off the ground – or 10 meters. The wind is much higher up there.

In 2000, it was decided by the National Weather Service and Environment Canada to make a change in time for the 2001-2002 Winter season. They took into account years of study and criticism of the original wind chill method and came up with one chart that all of North America can use.

This new chart was released in November of 2001. Instead of moisture in a bottle, it takes into account the heat loss from your skin due to wind at 5 ft off the ground, not over 30 feet off the ground. It’s much more representative of how you feel. This new wind chill chart also takes into account how long it takes for frostbite symptoms to begin.

A misconception about the wind chill is that it impacts everything. The wind chill factor impacts only you and animals. Basically anything warm-blooded and with feelings. It doesn’t impact your car, your home or roads.

The wind chill isn’t calculated until the temperatures drop to below 50 and the wind is above 3 mph.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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