This winter has been so cold in the Northeast, that the weathermen have skipped the “Wind Chill Factor.” The WCF has always bothered me. Like it is not cold enough, you have to factor in the wind to make everyone feel really bad.
I think the wind chill factor became popular in the eighties or nineties. It was common for skiers to get frost bite. It became popular to warn everyone, especially skiers, that the wind, either real or the same effect generated by a person roaring downhill at thirty plus miles per hour, effectively makes uncovered skin colder. They then calculated that though twenty-five degrees was not dangerously cold, flying down hill would make the dangers of frost bite to your unprotected skin the same as if the temperature was ten degrees. The weather person mantra in the winter soon became, “But with the wind it feels like” followed by some really scary number that makes you afraid to even run outside to your car for fear of freezing to death before you make it.
Of course to people born before 1980, we only knew the actual temperature. If it was 25 degrees out, we knew what that felt like. If it was 25 degrees out and windy, we knew you needed to cover up because “it feels a lot colder.” When we hear “It feels like -5 degrees,” that is some scary stuff…especially if it is windy. We have a different point of reference.
One of the stupidest thing I hear on weather reporting is “It is 20 degrees out, but with the wind gusting at 10 mph, it feels like 10 degrees.” Not to me it doesn’t. To me it feels like 20 degrees with a very mild wind, except for occasional gusts where you may want to turn your back to the wind for a few seconds.
Anyway, weather people love the WCF, because they love scary weather. If it wasn’t for scary weather they would not have a job; no one would really care about the weather or weather people.
It has been so cold in the Northeast this winter that the weather people have not been using the WCF to scare us. They don’t need to, it is cold enough for real. I thought it was just my imagination that they were not using the WCF like they used to but then I heard this just yesterday from a weather lady,
“It is 5 degrees out…the wind is from the west at 5 mph, not enough to make a difference.”
That 5 mph wind could make the temperature -1 degree with the WCF. What the weather lady really admitted was “It is friggin cold enough to not need the WCF to scare you anymore.”
Now I have it figured out. If the weather report does not include a WCF, stay inside, it is too damn cold.