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

We often talk about wind chills this time of year because it’s 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.

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 say it "feels" colder outside than the air temperature actually is sometimes in the winter, said Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini.

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

Air temperatures this week will fall to the low single digits some mornings; rising to only 18 to 20 degrees. 

Cold air, combined with even the slightest of breezes, will allow wind chill values to fall below zero this week.

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

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.  


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


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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