Wind chills explained: How they are calculated, advisories, and tips to stay safe

Published: Monday, January 07, 2019 @ 10:00 PM

A look at the criteria used by the NWS for Wind Chill Warning, Advisory and Watch.

Wind chills is an indication of what the temperature feels like.

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Wind chill values are based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin.

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As the wind increases, it pulls heat away from the body, cooling down the skin and eventually the internal body temperature. This is why we often say it “feels” colder outside than the air temperature in the winter, Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini said.

Examples of how wind chill is calculated during the winter months.

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The calculation the National Weather Service uses for wind chill looks at how cold it is as well as windy.

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To help protect people from frostbite and hypothermia, the National Weather Service will issue a Wind Chill Advisory if the wind chill is expected to drop anywhere from minus 10 to minus 24 with wind around 10 mph or greater.

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When the wind chill is minus 10 to minus 15, frostbite can develop in less than 30 minutes.  

WIND CHILL WARNINGS AND ADVISORIES

The National Weather Service issues Wind Chill Warnings and Advisories based on specific criteria, depending on geographical location.

“A Wind Chill Advisory is issued when wind chill values will be between 10 below zero and 24 below zero and winds 6 mph or greater,” Zontini said. “A step up from an advisory or a Wind Chill Warning, issued when the wind chill will be 25 below zero with winds 6 mph or greater.” 

A Wind Chill Watch also can be issued if wind chills low enough for a warning are expected in the next 12 to 36 hours, according to Zontini 

HOW TO STAY SAFE

Dress for the weather this time of year. Dress in many layers that are lightweight but warm. Your coat can be heavier and should have a hood. Water resistant materials are best as well. 

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If you must go outside, be sure to cover as much skin as possible to help prevent both frostbite and hypothermia. 

Keep on a hat as well because a lot of body heat is lost through your head. Also, wear mittens instead of gloves to keep your hands warmer.

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