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Wind Chill and Frostbite - LEX18.com | Continuous News and StormTracker Weather

Wind Chill and Frostbite

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No doubt you've heard us talk about wind chill from time to time. If you've been watching the news this week, that's the focus of what I'm talking about every weather cast. Wind chill is important when temperatures get very cold and sustained winds pick up.

Some of the coldest air of the year is in place and that means low temperatures in the single digits. When low temperatures dip this much it doesn't take much for it to feel like negative values. Your skin can only handle cold air like this for so long.

Now, that being said, we're not really cold enough here in Kentucky to have to worry about immediate frostbite. Does that mean you can spend long periods outside with exposed skin? No. Even with negative single digit wind chills, frostbite may not be a concern, but raw skin can. In some cases, a few hours outside could lead to frostbitten skin.

For rapid frostbite to occur you generally need wind chills to drop to -20°F. At this temperature, skin can become frostbitten in as little as 30min. When the wind chill drops into the -40s the time is cut down to 10min. Anything below -60°F and the time for exposed skin to succumb to frostbite is as short as five minutes!

What is wind chill?
The wind chill is the temperature that it "feels like" outside. The value is determined by a formula that uses both air temperature and wind speed. The lower the temperature and higher the wind speed, the colder the wind chill becomes. Wind carries heat away from your body. Because temperature and wind speed are both independent of each other, there is a wide range of wind chill scenarios.

Below is a chart put out by the National Weather Service to show what wind chill value will be produced from different temperature and wind speeds. The chart also shows frostbite times based on wind chill values.

Ok…

All this being said...we're NOWHERE NEAR these rapid frostbite times. Wind chills through next week are only expected to reach the negative teens at best. While this may not produce frostbite rapidly, it could still occur if skin is exposed for a few hours.

This is not the time to be outdoors. Stay inside as much as possible during the beginning of 2018. If you do venture out, cover and bundle up. Raw, exposed skin is no fun.

Stay warm and well,

-Meteorologist Seth Phillips

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