Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Wind Chill: It's Not Just A "Feeling"

 News Report: It's 10 Degrees, but with Wind Chill it Feels Like 15 Below...

I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. So, I know the cold. My twin and I were paperboys for many years and there were mornings every Winter when our father insisted, God bless his departed soul, on driving us through the route because the temperatures, with wind chill, were dangerously cold.

Here's what many people outside the Great North do not understand. Wind Chill is for real.

The media, as I hear it here in New Jersey, doesn't seem to understand it completely. 

Here's an example. It's currently 10 degrees Fahrenheit where I live. We are predicted tonight to receive gusts up to 36 mph. And we are under a "Wind Chill Advisory" informing us here that the Wind Chill could be 15 degrees below zero.

And yet consistently I keep hearing this reported in local media as the following. "It's 10 degrees. But with Wind Chill it will feel like 15 below."

No. It won't feel like 15 below. It is 15 below.

Look, I'm a Latin teacher, not a Physics teacher. But I understand the science underlying this issue. Cold air takes heat off an object. Cold air in motion takes even more heat off an object. This is because the effect of the motion is that even more cold air touched that object. And so even more cold air does its damage.

But when you report that it will "feel like it's 15 below," you could mislead people into thinking that Wind Chill is just something psychological.  "Hey! I know it feels like it's 15 below, but it's really only 10 above, so I'm fine out here!"

No, you're not.

And I'm writing this at a time when my family and friends back in Wisconsin are in a seriously dangerous situation. And I've seen that, while Chicago wisely cancelled school today because of the cold, other districts did not, putting children who had to wait for a bus at peril.

The point is, with no wind, I could hold my ungloved hand outside in 10 degrees above pretty much indefinitely and not get frostbite. But if I did that tonight, with Wind Chill of 15 below, it will not just feel like 15 below. I will get frostbite.

As a final note, as I said, I grew up in Wisconsin. I never ever complain about the heat. And in the Summer of 2004, while in Iraq, I was in 120 degree heat. 

The reason I don't complain about the heat is that I want to reserve the right to complain about the cold. I mean, if you complain about both, well, then you're just a complainer! 

So, I don't complain about the heat. And that gives me the right to say, "Damn! I hate this cold!"






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