Civil war over wind chill breaks out in frigid North

Iron Range newsThe “polar vortex” has arrived in northern Minnesota, delivering the promised “surface of Mars” deep freeze, and giving everyone something to argue about in lieu of going outside for any reason. We had 30 below this morning. I have not gone out to assess the wind.

One of the more interesting semantic battles that has arisen has been the “wind chill blowback.” Wind chill, a factor calculated based on temperature and wind speed, has been the predominant statistic shared on weather broadcasts and in common parlance among denizens of the north.

Some of the most passionate arguments against the wind chill trend have come from MPR NewsCut’s Bob Collins, who tilted against the wind chill in an articulate post over the weekend. Nevertheless, most local newscasts have led with wind chills, not temperatures.

Having lived on northern Minnesota’s Iron Range my whole life, usually in the woods outside the towns, my attitude about this is fairly pragmatic. Temperature matters when my pipes freeze. Wind matters when trees fall on my roof. The rest is layering. And finding emotional stability. In truth, surviving winter is as much a psychological exercise as it is one of physical endurance.

Meantime, Gov. Dayton announced after canceling school across the state today that tomorrow’s decision on cancellation will rest with local superintendents. Temperatures this weekend are expected to be near the freezing mark, which is balmy in these parts. Hope abounds.


  1. All the states school superintendents are busy today attending Dayton’s “HOW TO MAKE A DECISION ON WHEN TO CLOSE YOUR SCHOOL”. I sure hope they become qualified to make the right decision for tomorrow..

  2. Wind chills not just the skin, but also the houses. My house was build in 1980, just when builders were switching to thicker walls and cladding a house in blue foam before the final siding, We were pre-Tyvek, however. Its a pretty tight house, overall, but I’m sure the Tyvek would make a difference. I can tell you that the wind makes a difference, and also the wind direction. The evening before last, it was really cold out, but our house was warmer than it had been for several days. Not sure why, but there was something different in how the wind wasn’t blowing against it. And a west wind, like today, means that my feet will be cold when I’m at the computer, even though I’m upstairs in what is usually a warm spot, where the heat rises up the staircase.

  3. Gosh, when I’m at the bus stop and the wind starts howling, I feel a lot better if I turn my back to it. Guess I’m just a big dummy that way.

    Bob’s dug himself a pretty good hole over at MPR. Someone toss him another shovel.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.