Why wind chill can be dangerous

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Inland Northwest is bracing for frigid temperatures and dangerous wind chill.

Wind chill is the temperature it feels like outside and is based on the rate of heat loss caused by the effects of wind and cold.

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As the wind increases, the body is cooled at a faster rate, causing skin temperature to drop. Exposing your skin too long can put you in harm’s way.

Wind chill can lead to frostbite, hypothermia and even death.

Frostbite is caused by freezing skin and underlying tissue, and most often impacts the fingers, toes, nose and ears.

Hypothermia is different in that this happens when your body loses heat faster that it can produce it. Hypothermia can lead to heart failure, as well as respiratory failure if not treated.

How is wind chill measured? 

Wind chill is only calculated when its 50 degrees or below. The National Weather Service has a chart that compares temperature to wind speed to determine just how cold it feels outside.

Wind Chill Chart

For example, if temperatures reached five degrees and wind gust speeds hit 30 miles per hour, it would feel like -19 degrees outside.

The National Weather Service says spending just 30 minutes in those conditions increases your risk of frostbite.

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