Monday, December 13, 2010

Chilly Feelings

This may surprise people who think of me as an anal numbers freak, but there's one measurement during winter that I really hate.

The weather person on the radio this morning announced, "The wind chill makes it feel like it's 13 below."

Excuse me? Feels like? This is science, not a support group. No weather report should include what the weather feels like. It should give the cold, hard facts. Temperature. Humidity. Precipitation. Wind speed and direction. These are actual things that can be measured. Not feelings.

Sometimes they bypass this by simply saying, "The wind chill is 13 below. " But they're not fooling me. They're still just talking about an imaginary measurement. Something that represents how cold it feels to humans, not how cold it really is.

No one appreciates more than me how the wind can make a cold winter day miserable. I live in the flat Midwestern plains. Wind chill, as an effect, is something I'm on intimate terms with. But wind chill, as a measurement, frosts my boxers. It's one of those pet peeves that I can't quite explain.

The thing about wind chill is, it's just a measurement of how people are affected. It doesn't tell us how the ground or the trees or the cars or the houses or anything else relate to the cold. It's a made-up, for-humans-only factor. Scientific measurements should be universal. It's like measuring the level of disappointment or hunger. It may be important to people, but it has no business among the hard facts.

That's how I feel, anyway. The tim chill factor is at -22 on this issue.

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