Weather Talk: Windy weather isn't colder, it just feels that way

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When the day is chilly, a stiff wind certainly adds additional chill to the air.

Or does it?

In actuality, the chill is more in us than in the air. The so-called “wind chill factor” is not really a cooling of the air at all. Rather, it is the cooling effect that wind has on exposed skin. On a windy day at 35 degrees, a bowl of water does not freeze despite a subfreezing wind chill index. A windy day is not actually colder than a calm day, even though we all feel colder when exposed to the wind.

Likewise, our houses lose more heat on a windy day and so our furnaces must work harder to keep us warm, but this is not because the day is colder. That's because the wind carries away heat escaping from our houses, forcing our furnaces to produce more heat to meet the thermostat setting.

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