Posted in Charles Passel, Christmas, Cleveland, Let It Snow, National Weather Service, Paul Sniple, White Christmas, Wind Chill Factor, Wind Chill Index, Winter

Bah Humbug to the Wind Chill


For everyone who thinks you need snow for a delightful Christmas, bah humbug to you! The weather really is frightful outside. But, this is expected, considering yesterday was the official start of winter. Now I am wondering what possessed me to move back home. I hated the weather when I grew up here and I still hate it. I am dreaming of warm, sunny places. Nine below is a crime, and we have a wind chill warning in effect today. What is even more ridiculous is that it was in the sixties a couple weeks ago. Sometimes, I think that wind chill factors only apply to us in the northern part of the United States and down south, no one has even heard of them. Ohioans know that wind chill factors are the combination of temperature and wind speed and how they affect human comfort levels. This is how the cold is felt on exposed skin (as if anyone is crazy enough to expose their skin in their weather). Ironically, this does not apply to inanimate objects or even other animals and plants. Actually, it doesn’t even apply to anyone sheltered from the wind. Makes very little sense, doesn’t it. Whatever – I think wind chill factors are nonsense and only make sense to scientists in the Antarctic. Besides, when it is that cold outside, most of us are smart enough to be sheltered from the wind thus the wind chill factor doesn’t even apply (Apparently, I am no genius). Ambiguous, if you ask me, but don’t, please.

Nevertheless, here is a history lesson I borrowed from Wikipedia. The first wind chill tables and formulas were developed by Paul Sniple and Charles Passel while working in the Antarctic before World War II. They were made available to the National Weather Service sometime in the 1970s. Sniple and Passel based their research on the cooling rate of a small plastic bottle as its contents turned to ice while suspended in the wind on their hut roof, at the same level as the anemometer (An instrument for measuring wind force and velocity). In conclusion, the wind-chill index is said to provide a good indication of the severity of the weather.

Moreover, in 2001, the National Weather Service implemented a new wind chill index. The newer version is only used in the U.S. and Canada and it is determined by looking at skin temperature under various wind speeds and temperatures. The model is based on correlations of wind speed and heat transfer rates. Heat transfer is calculated for a bare face in wind, facing wind and while walking into it. Also, the wind chill only applies to temperatures at or below 50 °F and wind speeds above 3mph. Additionally, the method for calculation has been controversial (shocker, anyone?) because experts disagree on whether the model should be based on exposed skin versus covered skin. Also, resistance to cold varies from person to person and/or exposure levels. Frostbite can also be applied, but that is a whole other matter that I am not prepared to research. If you ask me, it’s a bunch a woobla for someone else to worry about since I plan on staying inside.

So, if you are one of those people wishing for a White Christmas this winter, I am sending a bah humbug your way. Next year, I will enjoy my Christmas some where sunny and warm, but in the meantime, I will be wondering what kind of idiot moves to back to Cleveland or wishes for this kind of weather.

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