Wind chill

A katabatic wind blows snow off the plateau
A katabatic wind blows snow off the plateau (Photo: Glenn Browning)
Mawson expeditioner walks in the Katabatic WindMawson's huts in a blizzard

Increased wind speed results in increased heat loss. This is called the wind chill factor. You can walk outside in shirt sleeves in minus 40°C if it is absolutely calm but you may require the thickest of layers at minus 5°C if the wind is above gale force. Even the wind generated by walking can cause frostbite; a gale at minus 40°C is dangerous.

The ‘sensation’ scale

How you will feel at a given wind chill temperature

  • Below −25°C: Freezing cold
  • −25 to −15°C: Bitterly cold
  • −15 to −10°C: Very cold
  • −10 to 0°C: Cold
  • 0 to 10°C: Very cool
  • 10 to 15°C: Cool
  • Above 15°C: Mild

To calculate the wind chill factor you can use the wind chill calculator.

The National Weather Service in the United States has developed a different formula for measuring wind chill. The NWS Wind Chill page has further information.