As I took my Maltese out for a walk last night, the temperature was 12 degrees below zero. With the wind, it felt like almost 40 degrees below. My hands were extremely cold in a matter of minutes. We hear about wind chill on nearly every winter weather report, and the concept makes sense. But how much do you really know about wind chill factor? Mental Floss has the info you need to be a wind chill factor afficianado.
Antarctic explorers Siple and Passel came up with the idea in 1940, measuring how long it took water to freeze under various wind conditions. A key concept in Mental Floss’s article is that wind can lower the temperature of an inanimate object (like the water) to air temperature more quickly, but cannot lower it below the actual air temperature. The wind chill formula itself assumes certain situational variables. Specifically, the calculation assumes that your exposed face is roughly five feet off the ground, it’s night, and you’re walking directly into the wind in an open field at a clip of about 3 mph.
Note that the all time low wind chill was about 150 degrees below in Antarctica on July 4, 2003. Had the wind not been blowing at 75 mph, it would have been a balmy 94 degrees below. (OP 1/7/2014)