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January 7, 2010 / Dave Gorham

Wind Chill Causes Shut-downs, Delays, Health Issues


Wind chill temperatures and advisories across 2/3s of the country today are having a widespread impact. Many businesses are telling workers to stay home and avoid the risks and dangers associated with the cold and wind. However, just as many businesses realize the importance of continuing to serve its customers and clients. Advance planning and preparation are key for many businesses and services including airports, hospitals, utilities, petrochemical, emergency, highway departments, retail outlets and of course postal workers.

Image: Smithsonian National Postal Museum

Target Stores, Inc takes preparation and planning to a high level with advanced planning, technology and forward thinking.

Strong winds and cold temperatures combine to strip away body heat leading to frostbite to exposed skin in minutes. Additionally working outside in extreme cold adds additional stress to the body and can lead to heart attack. In fact, even without exertion the extreme cold can lead to undo stress.

Wind chill does not have an effect on trucks, cars or other inanimate objects – with one exception: Wind chill will shorten the amount of time if takes for an inanimate object to reach the ambient air temperature.

Image: AP

Wind chill causes severe stress on livestock, not only on location but in transport as well.

Image:  Sarpy Sam

According to Wikipedia, the equivalent temperature was not universally used in North America until just the past few decades. As recently as the 1970s Canada used a formula that reported a 4-digit number that left Canadians to interpret and relate the number to their own personal experiences. About the same time in the United States, tables developed before WWII came to favor. These tables used a more familiar number, an equivalent temperature that people could more closely relate to. Various discussions and arguments lead the National Weather Service to overhaul the system in 2001 and the result is the table below.

Source: Wiki

Is the argument over? No. The Australian tables factor humidity and, like the heat index, humidity plays a major role in the apparent temperature. The American table, reasoning that the vast majority of table applications occur in dry, or low-humidity air (after all, it streams southward into the United States from Canada, not an ocean), negates the effect of humidity. What about sweat and wet clothes? Certainly these are sources of humidity that will have a tremendous impact on your own personal apparent temperature, and so the argument(s) continue about what is the true apparent temperature.








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