Measuring wind chill factors to stay safe

The Upper Peninsula is inundated with lakes, rivers, and varying levels of elevation which can create the perfect storm for high winds.

In a cooler climate, high winds might make for a nice breeze, but when combined the frigid winter temperatures, it is anything but enjoyable.

Winter started a bit earlier than usual this year, and the quick change in season has produced blistering cold temperatures that feel worse than they actually are thanks, in part, to the wind chill.

But what does the wind chill actually measure?

“Basically how cold it feels outside it’s not really the temperature, but what it (wind chill) does is measure how fast you skin is losing heat, like your exposed skin not covered up,” National Weather Service meteorologist Megan Dodson said.  “Obviously when it’s more windy you’re going to feel a lot colder than if it was not windy.  You have a bubble that kind of forms around you from your body heat when there’s no wind but that’s blown away when basically you have gusty winds.  So you’ll feel a lot colder when if you were sitting there outside with no wind.”

“They developed this (the wind chill factor) to see how cold it feels and also if you’re losing body heat a lot faster you’re a lot more exposed to things like frostbite or hypothermia.  That’s why we do it.”

Calculating the exact wind chill is a complicated process that factors in everything from wind speed to skin tissue resistance.

Fortunately, the National Weather Service has a Wind Chill Chart posted on its website that is easy to read and extremely important for anyone planning on braving the cold for an extended period of time.

“For example, if you’re standing outside and it’s let’s say, zero out, the wind is 30 miles per hour and you’re out hunting and you forget your gloves and you’re sitting out there…according to our chart, the wind chill would be -19 and within about 30 minutes you’re not covering up those fingers you’re going to start seeing problems,” Dodson said.

Problems like frostbite and even hypothermia.

Luckily, the National Weather Service issues cold weather advisories on its website when the wind chill falls below -24 degrees.

For more information, visit the National Weather Service in Negaunee Township’s website.