The wind chill temperature is a “feels like” temperature. It is how cold people and animals feel when outside.

According to the National Weather Service: As the wind increases, it draws heat from the body, driving down skin temperature and eventually the internal body temperature. Therefore, the wind makes it FEEL much colder.

Wind Chill Warning is issued when wind chill values are expected to fall to -30°F or lower. At this level of cold, you can get frostbite in 10-15 min on unprotected skin.

On January 30, 2019 a bitter cold polar vortex swept through the Midwest, bringing record lows to the state. The below chart shows the lowest wind chill that occurred in Iowa that morning:

Iowa Environmental Mesonet

According to the Iowa Environmental Mesonet, the all-time record in Iowa for Coldest Wind Chill occurred on Christmas Eve in Waterloo in 1983 when it was -64*. The day set a record for the coldest HIGH temperature in Waterloo of -15*. The low temperature was -18*.

There are only a handful of times in U.S. records that the wind chill reached -100* or colder. One such occasion happened on January 16, 2004, at New Hampshire’s Mount Washington. The observatory recorded a temperature of -41.8* with wind speeds of 87.4 mph, leading to a wind chill of -102.6*. For a 71-hour period at the site, the wind chill never rose above -50*. Yikes.

Since 2009, the NWS Des Moines has issued a total of 21 Wind Chill Warnings for their coverage area.


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