KANSAS CITY, Mo. — You probably remember that long stretch of February weather where temperatures were stuck below freezing for almost two weeks.
We might not have a historic cold stretch like that again this winter, but there’s no doubt we’ll still have cold snaps, along with dangerous wind chills. But why do they drop down so low?
Let’s break down the science behind the wind chill.
Our bodies lose heat through a process called convection. Where there’s little to no wind, a layer of that heat remains close to our bodies, which helps us stay warmer. Twenty degrees feels like 20 degrees.
But when you factor in wind, let’s say a 20 mph wind in this case, the moving air breaks up that insulating warm layer around you.
This speeds up the process of heat loss, making it feel significantly colder. Now that 20-degree air temperature feels more like single digits.
That’s why the FOX4 Weather Team stresses that you dress in layers during the winter and cover all exposed skin to prevent frostbite — especially when we’re dealing with dangerous cold and wind chills.
And of course, our previous scenarios assumed you were dry. If your clothing gets wet, it will greatly increase heat loss through conduction and evaporation. That can lead to an increased risk for hypothermia and other cold weather injuries.
Here are hypothermia warning signs to look for:
- Acting confused or showing a lack of interest
- Shivering with pale, cold skin
- Difficulty speaking or slurring speech
- Signs of sleepiness
- Weakness or stiff muscles
If you see signs of hypothermia or begin experiencing them yourself, get out of the cold. Remove your wet clothing and use blankets to warm your body. Don’t apply direct heat. That can damage your skin. Those with more sever cases should seek medical treatment.