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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Should We Do Away With ‘Wind Chill Factor’?

(Mel Evans/AP)

Slate columnist Daniel Engber wants to see windchill factor done away with completely. He argues it’s arbitrary. (Mel Evans/AP)

As cold weather grips much of the country, we’re hearing a lot about the “wind chill factor.”

The measurement comes from Canadian Antarctic explorers Paul Siple and Charles Passel, who in 1945 worked out an equation to show how quickly water froze at different temperatures depending on the wind.

The numbers that come out of their equation were the precursor to our modern day “wind chill factor,” which is supposed to tell you how cold it feels outside.

But Slate columnist Daniel Engber wants to see wind chill factor done away with completely. He argues that the number is arbitrary, and that factors such as sunlight, surrounding buildings and a person’s height and weight affect how temperature feels.

Critics of his argument say wind chill is a useful metric because it warns people when there is higher risk of hypothermia.

Engber joins Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti to make his case against windchill.

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