Those winds were brutal across the area Friday, plunging wind chills to as low as -30° to -35°. This isn’t the first time such conditions have been felt in the area during the month of December. But it is the first time in a long time since wind chills have been this cold in December. The last time we had wind chills at or below Friday’s lowest readings was 33 years ago, in December 1989! Friday is one of only a handful of times that December wind chill readings have been this low.
What is the wind chill?
In simplest terms, wind chills are a calculation of how the air feels on exposed skin due to heat loss with the winds. Our bodies radiate heat and exchange heat with the air immediately surrounding our skin. When winds are blowing and temperatures are cold, that layer of warmth is pushed away, causing us to lose more heat through our skin. The wind chill is a calculation to how the temperature feels due to that loss of heat.
How low did wind chills drop Friday, Dec. 23, 2022 and was it a record?
Official climate data for the Youngstown area is recorded at the Youngstown/Warren Regional Airport in Vienna, Ohio. The data below is from climate records at that location.
Available data for wind chill readings goes back to 1947. In the last 75 years, there are only five dates where wind chills have been as low as they were at times on Friday.
As of 6:20 p.m. Friday, the lowest wind chill value at the Vienna airport was -31°F recorded at 12:51 p.m. The wind chill was also reported as -31°F at the 5:51 p.m. observation Friday.
Below are the four other dates in December in the last 75 years where the wind chills fell to or below -30°F at some point during the day.
Friday’s readings weren’t the coldest on record. The coldest wind chill recorded in the month of December in the last 75 years was -38°F on Christmas Day in 1983. That cold snap began on Christmas Eve 1983 and wind chills also fell below -30°F that day. Before Friday afternoon, the other dates in December wind chills fell below -30° were Dec. 22, 1989 and Dec. 16, 1951.
When will these frigid wind chills improve?
We will continue seeing sub-zero wind chills for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2022. However, wind chills will become less extreme by Christmas Day. Wind chills Saturday are expected to be in the -10° to -25° range throughout the day.
Wind chills improve on Christmas Day as the winds continue to come down and temperatures start rising. Highs Sunday warm into the teens and wind gusts won’t be as high. This results in wind chills warming to a range of 5° above to -5° during the late morning and afternoon.
Air temperatures continue warming Monday. We still have a chance for sub-zero wind chills in the morning, but readings jump to the double digits for Monday afternoon.