Breakdown: Why wind chill can make it feel colder

Why wind chill can be dangerous

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Wind chill is how the wind makes the body feel when the wind is blowing on a cold day. On a windy, chilly day the air temperature stays the same even though you may feel colder when the wind is blowing.

On a day when the winds are calm, our bodies are able to keep us warm longer because we have a layer of warm air that surrounds the skin. When it is windy that warm layer is blown away faster and the stronger the wind the faster that layer gets replaced with the cold air. We start to lose heat at a faster rate, which we refer to as the wind chill.

NOAA wind chill
NOAA wind chill (Source: NOAA wind chill)

Check out the chart below. Wind chill can be dangerous because it can cause frost bite and hypothermia to exposed skin over a specific amount of time. If the temperature is 0 degrees Fahrenheit and the wind speed is at 15 mph, it will feel like 19 below zero and frostbite can occur in 30 minutes to exposed skin.

wind chill chart
wind chill chart (Source: wind chill chart)

Now keep in mind the wind chill or “feels like” is just an estimate and doesn’t take everything into consideration. For example, everyone loses heat at different rates, the clothing we wear may make it not feel quite as cold and if you are standing directly in the sun or humidity levels. These elements can make the “feels like” temperature or the wind chill not feel so chilly.

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