Cheer up! This winter is warmer than it would have been in 2000


Is it winter? It’s been up to 70 nearly every day this month in Tucson.

The part that bugs me with all this polar vortex panic is that the news is reporting the wind chill adjusted temperature as THE temperature, and everyone around me is quoting it as THE temperature as well. Which is total hooey and bordering on irresponsible because wind doesn’t always move at the exact same speed and will put the experienced conditions somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.

Normally I don’t care if the news because hey it gives people something to talk about over the water cooler. But when vast swaths of the office refuse to come to work “because it’s 30 below!!” it makes my life harder and costs businesses money.

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Recently I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the daily low temperatures reported… and it turns out you have to be really careful with them because the definition of the low temperature used is inconsistent and potentially very weird.

For example my phone uses weather channel data, I think, and over the weekend was reporting the low temperature for Monday as -17 (west suburbs of chicago). However I looked at the hourly forcasts and that was totally incorrect. The low for monday was actually expected to be -10 monday afternoon it was going to be around -5 (but windy) at 6-7am when the low temperature usually occurs. -17 was the temperature for 6-7am tuesday! For tuesday it showed the low temperature at -10 which was actually going to happen in the wee hours of wednesday. Turns out the definition of “low for the day” used was “the lowest temperature between 7pm of the day and 7am of the following day”. Which is ridiculous as the low temperature one would experience for a particular day, in the winter here anyway, is usually right around sunrise. A cutoff of 2 or 3 am might be defensible, but I don’t think many people expect 6am wednesday to be reported as tuesday.

I read a post by a tv weatherman explaining his lows. It sounded like he was doing a better job reporting "morning lows’ and “overnight lows” rather than just “lows”.

Yeah, they also report the wind chill in weather with “gusts up too” as though gusts were a steady and constant wind.

Wind chill and heat indexes may have started as science but they have devolved into a gimmick for teasers before commercial breaks and flashy headlines about Minnesota being colder than the surface of mars.

Through the gear that you have to wear to be out side at -19 degrees, the effect of occasional gust of wind feel like virtually nothing. Steady wind on a day when its 25 degrees and your face isn’t covered is a much bigger factor but it doesn’t make as sensational a headline.

My question for Maggie. What is the windchill in middle of a class F5 tornado?

This winter is warmer than it would have been in 2000

Using a different measuring system doesn’t make the weather warmer or colder any more than switching to Celsius would make US summer colder.

In Saskatchewan, they used to report wind chills in watts/square metre. I wish they still did. They probably did that because it was too hard for weathermen to report that it “feels like -80” with a straight face. When they report 2400 w/m^2, you either know what it means, or you don’t. When they report “feels like -50” you may think you know what it means, but you’re probably wrong.

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Yes, thank you. I’m aware of that. This was a joke.


Pretty much. I’ve experienced actual -30F temperatures a few times, and it’s a completely different experience than 0F temperatures with a -30 wind chill.

You go outside in “true” -30F and everything in your nose instantly freezes. Packed snow under your feet creaks and groans with a hollow nails-on-chalkboard type sound. If you left your car out overnight, it probably won’t start unless you have a block heater.

A wind chill that “feels like” -30F is comical by comparison. Your ears turn red and they hurt a little bit if you stay out for more than a few minutes. If you wear glasses they fog up when you come inside, but that’s about as far as it goes.

I wouldn’t want to stay outside for hours in either condition unless I was bundled up like an eskimo, but one situation is much more survivable than the other.

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. . . .whereas Minnesota is only more boring than the surface of Mars. . . (couldn’t resist. . .)

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Now, 35-40 below, with wind chills passing 70 below, are another story entirely. It gets pretty bad when it shuts down a SAC base. . . (as it did for me after an emergency landing at Minot AFB, ND, one VERY cold day in 1987. . . )

Funny how much less terrible -20F feels after a couple days at -30 or so. As long as there isn’t a wind, anyway. Always hated the nostril freezing thing, but I enjoy the squeeky snow sounds. To me it sounds more like walking on styrofoam than nails-on-chalkboard.


The problem is that “jokes” in headlines read as click-baity, which I imagine was the intention since it’s probably fairly difficult to make a change in how we measure wind-chill seem interesting. One weird trick to make winter warmer. You won’t believe how much colder this winter would have been in 2000.

Personally, I see a big difference between jokes and bland hyperbole. YMMV. I wasn’t trying to make this “click baity”. Frankly, that’s not something I even pay attention to with my posts here. I was trying to be a little silly. Sorry that didn’t work for you.


An f5 has wind speeds 261 - 318 mph

The answer is - Dead things don’t feel cold.

The wooshing sound you heard was not just the bitterly cold wind outside.

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…Or while you’re still outside, if you try to cover your nose.

Anyone got any good tips for riding a bicycle in winter without either blinding yourself or freezing half your face off?

Sure, but hyperbolic (or ironic/false) statements are a subset of jokes, so there is some overlap, especially when the meaning of joke doesn’t become apparent until after you read the content proper. I think it is reasonable to say that headlines are intended to draw people in and make them chose to read something, and I’m not sure the content lived up to the promise of the headline (I was expecting something related to climate change or some sort of specific weather phenomenon specific to 2000).

And honestly I would be a lot more accepting of stuff like this if it wasn’t for the fact the BB likes to name and shame other media outlets for what it considers to be unacceptably bad science journalism. Like, a factually accurate, lighthearted tweet about how a specific place on Mars is warmer than a specific place on Earth is bad, but this (or the highly dubious piece on black ice) is good?

Warm air seems to provide very little chill, even when moving very fast. What a bummer.

Even if it was click-bait, so what? Click on one thing, click on one hundred things, nothing has changed. As far as the clicker is concerned, no harm is done (exceptions include goatse and two girls one cup)