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Dec 2, 2013 9:03 PM by Russ Thomas - KPAX News

Wind chill to be a concern in Western Montana

MISSOULA - If you've spent any time in Western Montana during the winter months, you've undoubtedly heard the term, "wind chill factor". What many may not know is how wind chill is calculated or how dangerous it really can be.

According to the dictionary, the definition of wind chill is: “a still-air temperature that would have the same cooling effect on exposed human skin as a given combination of temperature and wind speed.” In more basic terms, it's what the temperature feels like to your skin in cold, windy conditions.

The human body naturally emits a layer of warm air around the skin which insulates it when temperatures are cold. Wind pushes this warm layer off the skin making it colder. Dressing in layers holds even more importance when wind chill values are low. In this case, thermals with two light material shirts, covered by a sweat shirt and a heavy jacket; along with a good pair of gloves, and a hat to cover the head helps hold heat in. Exposed skin is at risk for frostbite and hypothermia. The colder the temperature, and the stronger the wind, the shorter time it takes to become susceptible to these conditions.

Without getting into the complicated formula that calculates wind chill, we can give you a couple of examples that we have the potential of seeing over the next two days. Overnight Tuesday, the potential of wind gusts of 35mph combined with a temperature of 5 gives a wind chill of 20-below. Tuesday afternoon's temperature near 20 combined with a wind gust of 40 calculates a wind chill of 1 below.

Given this information, as always, the Storm Tracker Meteorology department urges you to dress in layers, cover all exposed skin, and only go outdoors when necessary. After a decrease in winds by midweek, wind chill numbers are forecasted to dip again this weekend.

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