Breakdown: Why it used to feel colder ‘back in my day’

Why it used to feel colder “back in my day”

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Wind plus cold temperatures usually indicates a wind chill. Our computers will calculate the feels like temperature everyday to help us understand what it will feel like when we head out-the-door into the elements.

Growing up, you may remember enduing wind chills that were a lot colder than what we normally feel on any given winter’s day. You are not wrong in thinking about this, in this episode of the Breakdown, we explain why it “felt” colder prior to 2001.

Paul Siple and Charles Passel were the fathers of the original wind chill chart. The two researches in 1945 were on an Antarctic expedition and used two small plastic bottles, suspended from their roof and noted the time it took to freeze the bottle. Or the time it took the heat to transfer from the water to the air around it, for the bottle to freeze.

There was a lot of controversy in this method of measuring. The first was this method didn’t consider the internal temperature of the water before freezing it. The freezing process would be slowed down greatly if water was warm. They also used wind that was just under 33 ft off the ground, which the wind is much higher up in the atmosphere.

Fast forward to 2000, both the National Weather Service and Environment Canada decided to make a change to the wind chill chart for the 2001-2002 winter season. The main reasoning was to better equate the wind chill with a more modern method that all North America could use.

Released in 2001, the new wind chill chart got rid of the moisture in a bottle method, replacing it with the method that includes the heat loss from your skin due to wind at 5 ft off the ground, not over 30 feet like the previous method.

The new method was more representative of how you feel when outside on a cold winter’s day in the wind. This new wind chill method also takes in account how long it takes for frostbite symptoms to begin.

One interesting fact about the Wind Chill is it only impacts you and animals. Anything warm-blooded and with feelings is what it impacts. Not car, home or roads, anything not alive its wont impact.

Also, wind chills are not calculated until the temperature drops below 50 and the wind must be above 3 mph.

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