RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — As winter approaches, you may hear our meteorologists talking about the wind chill, but what exactly is it?

In short, “wind chill” is used to describe how the temperature feels outside through the combination of the actual temperature and wind speed.

Wind chill describes how the air feels on our skin, and if it feels like the actual temperature outside or a bit colder. This phenomenon is created entirely by the wind, but only when the weather is already cold. If we have a high wind speed, the colder the air will feel. 

When wind chill hits, the actual temperature outside will stay the same, but it will feel cooler to us. This is because the wind will take away the heat that we naturally emit and blow it away from our bodies. The faster the wind, the faster this natural heat will be taken away.

For example, if the actual temperature outside is 20 degrees and we have a wind speed of 5 miles per hour (mph), the wind chill will be 13 degrees. On a day where we have winds around 15 mph, the wind chill would be 6. On the more extreme side, which is not something that we see often in Central Virginia, 0 degrees with a wind speed of 10 mph would give us a wind chill of -16 degrees.

Wind chill can create dangerous conditions. It would only take 30 minutes for frostbite to set in if the actual temperature was 0 degrees and the wind speed was 15 mph, which would give us a wind chill of -19 degrees.

By limiting your time outdoors and covering any exposed skin when you go outside, you can avoid any complications from extreme windchill.