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The Wolfram|Alpha Team

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

December 22, 2010 —
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Oh, the weather outside has been mighty frightful in many parts of the U.S. and Europe these past few weeks! Your mother has told you, and we will remind you, that it is never a good idea to forgo your mittens during cold weather.

How many times have you dashed outside to find that the advertised temperature does not feel the same as you had expected? The wind plays a big role in how the air temperature feels on your skin. For example, today in Champaign, Illinois, the temperature is 21 degrees Fahrenheit, but factor in the wind, and it feels like 9 degrees Fahrenheit outside. Enter your current city in this handy widget and it will provide a wind chill temperature. (The widget is live, so go ahead and try it!)

Icy temperatures can cause frostbite, a condition where tissue such as skin is damaged, and in some cases destroyed, due to exposure to extreme cold. As we encourage our users to create their own widgets, one of our users arwheelock did so by creating a popular related Wolfram|Alpha Widget. This widget allows you to quickly compute how long your skin can be exposed to such weather conditions before becoming susceptible to frostbite. By simply entering the temperature and wind speed for your location, Wolfram|Alpha will tell you approximately how long your skin can be exposed to the conditions before developing frostbite.

So whether you’re off for an evening of caroling or an afternoon on the slopes, be mindful of the risks associated with leaving your mittens (or other cold weather gear) behind.


There’s a typo in your widget’s W|A = link. It says “winchill” instead of “windchill”.

Posted by Dennis December 22, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Hi Dennis,

    Thanks for pointing this out. We updated the text in the link.

    The Wolfram|Alpha Team

    Posted by The PR Team December 22, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Wind Chill Widget does NOT work for Havertown, PA. But lo and behold, it seems to work for Havertown’s ZIP Code…19083. Where there is smoke, there is fire (usually). Shouldn’t this work for both name AND/OR zip all over the U.S.?

Posted by Bob Durrett December 31, 2010 at 10:57 am

Anybody want to test the theory that frostbite is possible BUT unlikey at 15 F with wind at 25 MPH?

And why is 0 F with 25 MPH wind “Not a valid input”? Does anyone “bench test” these Widgets or is that what I am doing for you now? Yes, I know it is a Beta, but, come on, at least have someone play with the Widgets before you publish them. Thanks. Still a W|A fan.

Posted by Bob Durrett December 31, 2010 at 11:23 am