Math Is Real Life: Wind Chills!

It’s the first Wednesday of February which means it’s time for our monthly linky – Math IS Real Life!!  If you want to see how the linky works, or just want other real world math ideas, check out our Pinterest Board of all the posts so that you can look back and find some great ideas and REAL pictures to use in your classroom!  
If you are linking up, please include the below picture AND a link back to all four of our blogs – feel free to use the 2nd image and the links listed below!
A monthly REAL WORLD math blog link-up hosted by

One little bit of “real life” math that has been plaguing me is the dreaded WIND CHILL FACTOR.  Now, those of you in southern climates probably have no understanding of what this horrific weather phenomenon is, so I thought I’d share a little bit with you!
As explained by the National Weather Service…
“The NWS Windchill Temperature (WCT) index uses advances in science, technology, and computer modeling to provide an accurate, understandable, and useful formula for calculating the dangers from winter winds and freezing temperatures. The index:
  • Calculates wind speed at an average height of five feet, typical height of an adult human face, based on readings from the national standard height of 33 feet, typical height of an anemometer
  • Is based on a human face model
  • Incorporates heat transfer theory, heat loss from the body to its surroundings, during cold and breezy/windy days
  • Lowers the calm wind threshold to 3 mph
  • Uses a consistent standard for skin tissue resistance
  • Assumes no impact from the sun (i.e., clear night sky).”
In a nutshell, this means that when things get really cold and nasty, the wind can really mess with things! The complicated formula used by the weather scientists helps us know how “at risk” we are by going outside during the Arctic conditions.
Let’s take THIS day for instance!

Now, this is a very typical winter day in Wisconsin…jacket weather but certainly tolerable.  Let’s check the wind chill however to know exactly how cold it FEELS.
On this day, the winds were blowing at about 20 mph which makes the wind chill temperature about 13 degrees.  Quite a bit colder but–most importantly-warm enough for the students to have outside recess!
What about THIS day?
A different story, right?  Let’s just say that NO ONE was going outside that day!  Luckily, the winds were relatively calm (5 mph) so the wind chill was ONLY -35 degrees.  
Want to see the power of wind chill?  Check out THIS day…a full 3 degrees warmer “actual” temperature…
But on this day, the winds were brisk at 25 miles per hour putting the wind chill at 48 BELOW ZERO!  For those of you in Florida or other places we dream about, that means you can develop frostbite in as little as 5-10 minutes of exposure!  Interested in checking out the cool wind chill chart that we refer to constantly?  CLICK HERE!
Weather and wind chills are a great way to get students starting to think about negative numbers and how they relate to zero.  We northerners have a built in way to show them that when you are counting backwards, 0 isn’t the end of the game!  Hope all of YOU are toastier than we are!  Make sure to check out all the great math posts at the other links!