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CINDY DAY: Wind chill knows no season

Good friends of Cindy Day's made the adventurous and courageous move to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, last summer. The cold does not keep Laurel and David Garrison indoors because they have the right clothing and the right attitude.  Laurel calls this photo "Arctic mascara."
Good friends of Cindy Day's made the adventurous and courageous move to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, last summer. The cold does not keep Laurel and David Garrison indoors because they have the right clothing and the right attitude. Laurel calls this photo

Last Monday, we turned the calendar page. Well, those of us who still have calendars did. That simple gesture not only greeted a new month but also welcomed a new season – meteorological spring. It doesn't feel much like spring out there today. The wind wrapping around the lion of a storm that continues to spin in the Gulf of St Lawrence is making it feel like mid-winter.

The other day, I received an interesting email about this very topic: wind chill.

I am a retired aerospace engineer from the Air Force, but at one time in my career (in the 1960s), I had the responsibility for conducting environmental trials on RCAF aircraft in the extremes of hot and cold weather; Churchill, Manitoba, in the winter, and the deserts of Arizona in the summer. In Churchill, we were always concerned, not just about low temperatures, but indeed the associated wind chill - which in those days was not reported as a "feel-like" temperature, but rather numbers like 2800, 2900, 3000, etc. If I remember correctly, these were units that described the rate of cooling in kilocalories per square meter per hour.

In Churchill, numbers like that were very meaningful, not just to us who were conducting the various trials, but indeed to anybody who worked or lived in Churchill. We all knew that once the wind chill got to any given level (say 2900), exposed flesh would freeze within a certain number of minutes... and precautions needed to be exercised accordingly.

I thank you for your attention.

Fred Barrett, Oakfield, N.S.

The next day, this letter came from Mike Gardiner:

Hello Ms. Day, I do enjoy your column; always something to learn. I wanted to share my experience on the cold - particularly, wind chill. I spent 13 weeks in Nunavut last year with one memorable day’s weather. Since it was so cold, the vehicle I was using didn’t always want to start. On that day, it was -42C, with a wind chill of -65C. I hadn't received a notice of work cancellation that day and decided to walk to work. I don’t think one can truly appreciate cold until one experiences such cold. It was with that view that I have nothing but admiration for the locals of Nunavut who live year-round in such extremes.

I have lots to say about the elusive and often maligned feel-like temperature, but it will have to wait until tomorrow.


Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network

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