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John Wheeler: In cold weather, wind can be a pain

Hypothermia is a lot more likely in windy weather.

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FARGO — A cool breeze on a hot summer day gives a wonderful feeling. That same wind speed in winter can be torture. When it is cold, our body's cardiovascular system is working hard to keep us from freezing. A delicate balance is necessary to send warming blood to outer extremities while also keeping the vital internal organs and the brain from cooling.

Wind makes all of this much harder because wind whisks away body heat from exposed skin. These areas require even more blood flow, which increases the risk of the inner organs getting cold. Hypothermia is a lot more likely in windy weather because of this. For this same reason, it is also harder to keep our homes comfortable in windy weather. The wind chill index is a confusing method for quantifying the effect of wind on exposed skin, and wind chill is wrought with problems. However, the cooling effect of wind is undeniable.

Related Topics: WEATHER
John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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