Extreme cold: It’s all about the ‘Feels Like’ temperature


… just for God’s sake don’t indulge your curiosity in the old “I wonder if your tongue really does stick to a lamppost”! It does … really, it does!

Colder than a witch’s tit! Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey! The list goes on but one thing remains the same, it is cold here in Montreal. But then it is January and we are in Canada so this deep freeze shouldn’t come as a surprise. Dress in layers and remember that exposed skin can freeze in very little time; don’t go out unless you have to; if you have to go out try to avoid long periods of exposure (believe me, you’ll know what constitutes a long period). These are all standard warnings when it comes to a blast of Arctic air, but the most important one is often omitted. Always check the wind-chill feels-like temperature (a term soon to be replaced with Extreme Cold) .

According to Blair Morrow, an Environment Canada meteorologist, this past December 6, Environment Canada issued a wind chill warning for an area when the temperature dipped to -30 Celsius and winds hit 19 km/h, producing a face-numbing wind chill of -42 Celsius.

Under the current system, no warning would have been issued had the temperature plunged to -42 Celsius and the winds been light, even though the threat of frostbite or hypothermia would have been just as high (keep in mind the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales meet at -40).

In the graphic below from The Weather Network I have highlighted the “feels like” row. It doesn’t matter what the actual temperature is, what counts is what, with wind and other aspects factored in, it feels like on your skin. Currently the temperature outside my window is -25 degrees Celsius (about -11 Fahrenheit), yet I know it will feel significantly colder than that because the “feels like” temperature is -38.

ColdThe extreme cold sky is a washed-out white and the sound of airplanes passing overhead is amplified in an eerie way. The street surface is also white as things freeze up. People dart about not wasting time and small talk is limited to indoors. The photo below of my trusty electronic thermometer indicates the -25C without the wind wind a toasty +23C inside making for a 48 degree swing!

TempBut don’t let this scare you off if you are planning a vacation in Canada this winter, just for God’s sake don’t indulge your curiosity in the old “I wonder if your tongue really does stick to a lamppost”! It does … really, it does!

MeDCMontreal is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and Freans and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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