AUSTIN (KXAN) — The coldest air since the historic winter storm a year ago will be blown in by winds gusting to 30 mph, creating frigid wind chill temperatures Thursday.
By Thursday afternoon, wind chill readings will be in the 10s across the area. Friday morning, many actual low temperatures in the 10s are possible with single-digit wind chill readings, some even below zero degrees. This is borderline Wind Chill Advisory territory, and the National Weather Service is monitoring. See more about the wind chill temperature and a wind chill chart below.
The combination of wind and low temperatures in winter can be deadly. The wind chill index helps you determine when dangerous conditions develop that could lead to frostbite or hypothermia by taking into account heat loss from the human body to its surroundings during cold and windy weather.
According to the National Weather Service, the calculation utilizes wind speed in miles per hour and temperature in degrees Fahrenheit. For example, a temperature of -5 degrees occurring with a 20 mph wind produces a wind chill of -30 degrees (see wind chill calculation table below). This means that your body will lose heat at the same rate as it would if the air temperature were -30 degrees with no wind.
Wind chill values of -25 degrees mean that frostbite can develop within 15 minutes. Frostbite is the freezing of skin and the body tissue just beneath it. It first affects exposed body tissue where blood circulation may be limited such as your fingers, toes, nose and ears. To minimize frostbite, make sure all body parts are well covered. When frostbite starts, you lose feeling in the affected area and the frozen tissue will take on a white or pale appearance. If you suspect you are experiencing frostbite, hold the frostbitten area closely against warm skin to return blood flow and warmth to the affected area.
Hypothermia is a low body temperature and is the most common winter weather killer. Hypothermia was a main cause of death during the February 2021 Texas blackout. Hypothermia comes on more easily when you or your clothing are wet.
Warning signs of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, slurred speech, and drowsiness. If you suspect someone is suffering from hypothermia, seek immediate medical attention. If no help is available, the victim should be warmed slowly with warm liquids, dry clothing and blankets.
When cold weather threatens, follow these tips for survival:
- Stay dry. Wet clothing results in much faster heat loss from your body. Wear waterproof insulated boots.
- Stay covered. Wear mittens or gloves, and wear a hat. At least half of your body heat is lost if your head is not covered.
- Dress layered. Trapped air between loose fitting clothing helps to insulate.
- Stay informed. Have a portable NOAA weather radio nearby to keep you up-to-date with the latest forecasts and warnings. Use wind chill temperatures to guide you in dressing properly for the outdoors. On very cold days, minimize your exposure to the outdoors if possible.
The National Weather Service issues wind chill advisories and warnings when a deadly combination of wind and cold air threaten. To learn more about wind chill, visit: www.weather.gov/om/windchill.