Weather Talk: Wind chill records are elusive

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An interesting question was emailed to the WDAY weather office this week asking, “What is the lowest wind chill ever measured at Fargo-Moorhead?” The answer to this question begins with a clarification. Wind chill is not measured. It is calculated from wind speed and temperature measurements. Wind chill was not even calculated at all for the first 90 or so years of the Fargo-Moorhead record because it was not used by the National Weather Service until the early 1970s. It was developed by the military to help officers make decisions about training maneuvers in cold weather.

During the 1970s, there were occasional wind chill readings into the -70s and -80s, but these values are not realistic. In fact, the wind chill formula was revamped in the early 2000s because the old formula was giving readings that were too low. Under the new wind chill formula, the coldest values have been around -60 degrees.

2020-01-19 11:00:00

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