How cold is it, really?
Welcome 2014! And quite a start to the year, with a cold snap that rivals anything we’ve seen in two decades. I don’t remember cold like this since the horrid winter of 1994, when the Northeastern U.S. saw snowstorms and extreme cold that alternated back and forth for weeks. Of course, when I was a child in the 1970s, such chills happened a lot more often; I remember a number of New England mornings where I awoke to a thermometer reading of -20ºFahrenheit (-29ºCelsius) [244 Kelvin].
The scariest negative temperature numbers that one hears about from the media are associated with the “wind chill”, which is a number that is supposed to measure how cold the air “feels” to your skin. But “wind chill” is a rather subjective and controversial measure — there’s no unique way to define it, since you’ll feel differently depending on how much exposed skin you…
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