How air temperature, especially the cold, can mess with your comfort

KOIN 6 Weather Kids

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Winter can be very exciting and one of the busiest times of the year when it comes to forecasting weather.

With mountains and a major ocean next to Portland, some years we don’t get all the winter weather to the valley floor. However, there are times that we do!

Have you ever had a snow day from school? Have you had the opportunity to build a snow fort at the park? Snowball fight anyone?

Well there is one thing that we definitely need when it comes to winter weather and that is cold air.

Weekend Meteorologist Joseph Dames

We know that weather can impact people on large scales and one variable that can really impact our comfort, is the temperature.

What feels cold to you? I know that in the winter that once it starts getting to the lower 40s that I (Joseph) need a thick winter jacket.

That winter gear, it can really help because of something we gauge in the winter call wind chill.

Wind chill: this is the combination of wind and temperature in relation to the loss of body heat. You may also hear this as the “feels like” temperature. The chart, provided by the National Weather Service, shows the results of the expressed variables.

A temperature of 30 degrees with a 30 mph wind will read a wind chill value of 15 degrees. This is again because the body heat coming off your body escapes due of the wind. You have a natural insulating layer of warm air and it gets pushed away. Assuming the temperature is the same, when the wind blows harder it will lead to a greater loss of heat. You can track that on the chart above.


Chief Meteorologist Natasha Stenbock

Use the chart above:

1. What a temperature of 25 degrees with a 45 mph wind will read?

2. How about 40 degrees with a 10 mph wind?

You can find the answers at the bottom!

This is why, wearing winter gloves and hats, can help keep you warm because your body heat remains.

Cold concerns!

Winter gear to stay warm!

What if you spend too much time out in the cold and you don’t have the proper protection? Well you guessed it, you may end up with something called hypothermia or even frostbite (freezing of skin).

When you have rapid loss of body heat, your body temperature may lower below it’s normal level. This is the action of hypothermia, which may lead to mental and physical health concerns and even more serious symptoms.

Some winters we are dealing with arctic air and of course that may bring in some of our most concerning wind chills! What exactly is arctic air?

How is that different from other winter air?

Courtesy: NWS

When we talk about an arctic blast, we are referring to extremely cold air that is far north in the arctic area of the world. This is generally air that is situated over areas that have ice and snow on the ground well into northern Canada and far stretches of Alaska. The air mass in this area is cold and dry. Usually that cold air has to fight through mountains and other geographic hurdles before it can find a way to Oregon. However, we have some tricks up our sleeves and we have some pathways to allow that cold air to move in (The Columbia River Gorge). Check out the graphic below, that is an image of cold arctic air expanding all the way into the United States this week.

Typically in the winter, we may experience something called polar air, which is cold but not to the same degree. Although polar air can bring in snow and winter weather, it doesn’t have the same overall impact as that arctic air that moves in.


Question number 1 = 5°

Question number 2 = 34°

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