Wind Chill

I’ve always wondered about the effect of what meteorologists call wind chill on objects like cars.  The effect of wind chill on living things is undeniable.  Who hasn’t gone outside on a frigid day only to hear the solid thud of birds, frozen on the wing, hitting the ground like low-caliber cannonballs.  But what about our automobiles?

As you drive, the movement of the car through air is the same as wind, right?  So if you were traveling at 60mph through a temperature of 10 degrees, according to the handy, dandy wind chill calculator provided by the N.O.A.A. (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), that’s a wind chill of -18 degrees, or, in meteorological terms:  “Sucky.”  (By the way, I love the idea that someone somewhere is “administering” our national oceans and atmosphere.)  This being the case, you’d think that cars would quickly grind to an icy halt, stranding their occupants until Spring.

So, does wind chill affect machines?  Yes and no.  Machines will cool off quicker in the wind, but they will not cool off more than the temperature of the air.  A 10-degree engine block will still be 10 degrees even with a 60mph wind, but its operating temperature will not rise as much and will return to 10 degrees much faster in a 60mph wind than in no wind at all.  Now, if you stuck your hand out the window, you would be an idiot.

In conclusion, if your car is sitting out in 10-degree air with a 60mph wind, as far as your car is concerned, it’s 10 degrees.  But as far as we organic, living things are concerned, wind chill blows.


There is one comment

  1. Michele wrote

    This was informative. I’ve wondered this very thing. I’ll scratch that idea for tire mittens.