Why does wind feel cold? At the same temperature, a gust of wind can make you chilly. How does your body “feel” the cold wind?

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Why does wind feel cold? At the same temperature, a gust of wind can make you chilly. How does your body “feel” the cold wind?

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Part of the reason we feel cold is when water evaporates off our skin. That’s why sweating works to cool you down. Your body releases a bunch of water onto your skin, and then the air evaporates it, leading you to feel cooler.

Wind is also evaporating any moisture off your skin, making you feel a bit colder than you would in just the ambient air.

Heat transfers out from your body / skin to the molecules in the surrounding air. Wind means many many more air particles “touch” your skin and therefore more heat is transferred much quicker than if the air were still.

Your body is always emitting heat, and warming the air around it. Air is a good insulator, meaning that air doesn’t transmit heat very effectively. So once your body warms the layer of air right next to you, the air stays pretty warm, and you stop losing heat to it.

A gust of wind pushes that warm air away, and replaces it with cool air. So you lose more heat to warm up the new air. As the wind keeps blowing, you never get a chance to create that warm insulating layer of air around you, and so it feels colder.

There’s two reasons a wind cools you down.

Firstly, when you don’t move around, the heat of your body warms up the air right next to your skin and it will start to feel warmer against your skin. Wind continuously replaces this air with colder air. If the ambient temperature is above your skin temperature, this doesn’t happen.

Secondly, your skin always has some moisture on it. Moving air increases the rate of evaporation of that moisture which cools you down because water turning from liquid to gas requires energy. The same phenomenon explains why you feel cold after a shower when your skin is wet.

It only feels cold when the air is colder than your body, as a heat transfer happens from your body to the air. When the air is warmer, the heat transfers from air to your body, the same way a heater with a fan works.