What is the coldest wind chill ever recorded? Mount Washington hits all-time low
A record-breaking Arctic blast has sent the mercury plummeting as the north-east of the United States braces itself for a historically cold night.
Reports on Friday evening suggest that Mount Washington, New Hampshire has broken the record for coldest wind chill temperature ever seen in the United States. A wind chill temperature of -106F (-77C) was clocked and projections warn that it could still get colder.
The previous coldest wind chill temperature was recorded in Alaska, where cold air and ferocious winds gave a wind chill reading of -105F (-76C). The Mount Washington figure will still need to be verified before it claims the US record, but with temperatures set to drop over Friday night it looks certain to beat the previous low.
An Arctic blast has brought a mass of freezing air across the north-east of the country and sent temperatures tumbling. The National Weather Service has warned that the perishing conditions bring a real threat to life in the region and urge the public to be weary of the “extremely dangerous” conditions from the “short-lived blast”.
In response to the extreme conditions Boston Mayor Michelle Wu declared a cold emergency throughout the city from Friday 3 through Sunday 5 February.
“I urge all Boston residents to take precautions, stay warm and safe, and check on your neighbors during this cold emergency,” she said.
What is wind chill?
The actual temperature at the top of Mount Washington was recorded at -45F (-42C), but 106mph winds meant that conditions will feel far colder for anyone unlucky enough to experience it.
The term ‘wind chill’ is often used to quantify the risk to life caused by extreme conditions by combining both the temperature and the effect of the wind. A brisk wind on a cold day compounds the freezing temperatures by blowing away heat as your body emits it.
This not only makes you feel colder, but has a serious impact on your ability to survive in extreme cold. In the same way as we use air fans to cool ourselves on a warm day, the winds blowing past your body cools you down even if the temperature remains the same.
The National Weather Service explains: “Wind Chill is a term used to describe what the air temperature feels like to the human skin due to the combination of cold temperatures and winds blowing on exposed skin. In simple terms, the colder the air temperature and the higher the wind speeds the colder it will feel on your skin if you’re outside.”
It may seem like a fairly vague way to analyse conditions but the wind chill figure is the result of a calculation that combines both the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit and the speed of the wind. Currently, parts of the United States are experiencing perishing cold and powerful winds.