Originally created 10/26/01

Wind chill factor warms



ATLANTA - The wind chill is heating up this winter. Starting Nov. 1, meteorologists around the country will begin using a new, warmer index to measure how cold the blustery winds of winter feel on bare skin.

The result, experts say, is that the wind chill temperatures no longer will be as brutally cold because they will now reflect the wind's effect on humans, not water.

"It's just a more accurate approach to the wind chill itself," said David Beachler, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service. "It's not going to be as low as what people are used to."

The wind chill index has long been a tool for warning how quickly unprotected skin could fall victim to frostbite in winter weather.

The new index measures how quickly heat is lost from exposed human skin - not how fast water freezes when subjected to cold winds, as the previous index did. Also, the new index takes wind speed readings closer to the ground.

"(The old index) relied on winds 33 feet above the ground to calculate the index," said Paul Kocin, the head winter weather expert for The Weather Channel, which has headquarters in Marietta, Ga. "Most people only extend about six feet off the ground."

The new index will be gauged at five feet above the ground, relatively close to the height of a human face - the body part exposed most often during winter and most susceptible to frostbite, Mr. Kocin said.

Reach Brian Basinger at (404) 589-8424 or mnews@mindspring.com.