What Is Wind Chill And Why Does It Matter?
Wind chill, it's a term you're going to be hearing a lot today and tomorrow especially. Ever since an Arctic cold front swept through Acadiana the temperatures have been dropping and the wind has been gusting out of the north. That means the difference between the actual temperature and the "feels like" temperature have been drastically different.
Wind chill isn't always a bad thing. At the beach in the Summer it's not really a chill but a cooling breeze that keeps us from feeling so hot. That's why 90 degrees at the beach feels a lot different than 90 degrees stuck in traffic on Johnston Street.
How do they calculate wind chill? There is a specific formula that scientist have developed to indicate the ambient temperature around the body in the presence of moving air. The reason we feel cooler in any kind of breeze is because our bodies give off heat. That layer of heat can be detected very close to the skin. That is why we feel warmer in a jacket. The jacket traps that warmth next to our body. Moving air pushes away that layer of warmth and our skin is exposed to the ambient temperature.
Another cooling effect of moving air is evaporation. Think back to the beach, when you step out of the water the breeze blowing on your wet skin can almost make you feel cold until you dry off a little. Despite the fact that we are not sweating profusely in wintertime we still are losing moisture to evaporation and that cools us further.
When is wind chill dangerous and why? Frostbite is the major concern in times of extreme temperature. With a wind chill of zero degrees or below exposed skin can start to show signs of frostbite within 5 minutes. A windchill of minus 20 can induce frostbite symptoms in one minute or less.
The best way to avoid any issue with wind chill is to stay out of the wind and cold. If you must go outside make sure you wrap up in several layers of clothing. These layers help your body maintain heat and will protect you from extreme temperatures and the gusty winds.