February 11, 2007

Wind Chill

Over at Slate, Daniel Engber says the whole concept of "wind chill" is utterly meaningless and should be abandoned:
The language of "equivalent temperatures" creates a fundamental misconception about what wind chill really means. It doesn't tell you how cold your skin will get; that's determined by air temperature alone. Wind chill just tells you the rate at which your skin will reach the air temperature.

If it were 35 degrees outside with a wind chill of 25, you might think you're in danger of getting frostbite. But your skin can freeze only if the air temperature is below freezing. At a real temperature of 35 degrees, you'll never get frostbite no matter how long you stand outside. And despite a popular misconception, a minus-32 wind chill can't freeze our pipes or car radiators, either.
That's certainly interesting, although I do still want something that tells me how quickly I'll get cold, especially if I'm trying to decide how far to walk for lunch. So I say no to abolition. Then again, it's probably easier to poke my head outside and decide for myself rather than stare at the weather forecast and try to make sense of what "wind chill" really entails.
-- Brad Plumer 2:19 PM || ||