Not All Wind Chill Readings Have Been Created Equal

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Wind chill numbers aren’t what they used to be.

On Wednesday in International Falls it was -8 degrees, but the wind made it feel like -27.

However, at the turn of this century, the windchill would have been -36 for the same conditions.

Eric Hacket says he remembers newscasts when he was a kid with wind chills that sounded frightening.

“I believe it was -57 at one point — just the wind chill of course,” he said.

But more than a decade ago, the formula changed.

“The original ones were based on how quickly water froze in a bucket, and after a while, meteorologists realized, well, we’re not walking around with buckets full of water,” said WCCO Chief Meteorologist Chris Shaffer. “It’s our face and our hands.”

And our face and hands lose heat differently than a bucket of water. Shaffer says it’s a newer, more accurate science.

So, in actuality, it wasn’t really worse back in the day.


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