Understanding the Wind Chill Factor

13 April 2017, 12:50

We are all familiar with looking at the temperature to see how warm or cold it is going to be on a specific day. However, the temperature is only part of the equation. You must also consider any breeze or wind that is around on that day, because this will help you figure out what you should wear.

The wind chill factor is the name given to the perceived temperature you will feel when the wind picks up. For example, if the temperature is hovering around freezing and there is no wind at all, it will feel as though it is freezing. However, if it is breezy and the temperature is around freezing, you will feel much colder, as if the temperature is well below freezing. You therefore know you must dress more warmly than you would otherwise, simply because you’ll feel colder.

Of course, it also depends on which direction the wind is coming from. Winds from the north bring colder air down that will make it feel bitterly cold. However, if the breeze comes up from the south, it will pull warmer air with it. You may remember summers when even the breeze feels very warm and doesn’t provide you with any respite on hot days. Just as the wind chill factor works in the winter, it can also fail to bring any relief in hot weather.

There are calculators you can use to work out the likely wind chill you might feel in any location on any day. Many weather websites will also provide the wind chill factor for each hour as you go through the day. If it is cold and you are planning to go out, make sure you bear this in mind as it will help you dress appropriately. Remember, in mountainous locations, it can be windy the higher you go, even if it seems very calm at lower levels. The temperature will naturally drop as you go higher too, so keep this in mind if you are visiting such locations.

Weather warnings are occasionally issued when the weather is bad, but they are not given for wind chill. You will notice warnings are given when the wind increases, but you must also bear in mind the associated wind chill if the weather is cold. The greater the wind speed, the colder it will feel.

So, if you hadn’t considered wind chill before, and the effect it has on how cold it feels on any given day, now you know how it works. Make use of calculators if you can, and work out whether you are dressed the right way for a day out when the weather is cold and the wind makes it feel even colder.