Sunday, 25 February 2018

Wind Chill Factor

I have been looking at the weather forecast for my area for the next few days. Yesterday was gloriously sunny* although there were* some cold breezes, and today is even sunnier* and the wind stronger and colder. Any thought of going out somewhere interesting to make the most of the sun and blue skies was instantly abandoned when I ventured into the garden this morning to remove the ice in the birdbaths and replace with fresh water. A wooden broom does this quite well, as long as only the surface is frozen*. When it is solid, then a hammer and chisel are needed, along with a reminder to empty the baths the night before. Our days out often include time spent on blowy railway platforms and at the moment* there is nothing of enough interest to overcome the menace of the wind chill factor. The only increase in temperature figure in the weather forecast is the number that comes after the minus sign.

* "sun, sunny, sunnier" Always insert the vowels, so these do not look like "snow, snowy,, snowier"

* Omission phrases "there (w)ere" "at (the) moment"

* "frozen" Always insert the vowel in this and in "freezing" as they are similar in outline and meaning

Wind chill is “the lowering of body temperature due to the passing-flow of lower-temperature air” and is often described as the “feels like” temperature. Air at a constant temperature will feel colder as wind speed increases, because the body is being cooled more quickly. I might describe the wind as icy* but what I am actually saying is how my exposed face and fingers feel, as the thin layer of warm air around me, the “insulating boundary layer”, is blown away, the skin is chilled and discomfort and pain increase. When the natural self-warming of the skin is unable to* keep up with this attack, the “disruption of my epiclimate”, then the cold is described as bone chilling, biting, gnawing, bitter or perishing, rather alarming terms that are a reminder to stay outside for as short a time as possible, as it is unlikely to be withstood for long, with the equally vicious-sounding frostbite not far behind.

* "icy" Insert the last vowel, as the S stroke here does not mean the presence or absence of a final vowel

* "unable to" Always insert the first vowel and in "enabled", to distinguish them

In our younger years, the house in which we lived was often very cold in winter, being old, damp at times and draughty, especially as it was on high ground and exposed to the full blast of any north winds. Huddling before the glowing coke fire, or congregating in the small kitchen with the gas jets on the cooker blaring, were the two main ways of warming up. A hot bath would be a good warmer-upper, but then there was the chilly dash* from the bathroom, clad in a large bath towel, along the short corridor to the fireplace in the living room, to dry off properly* and get into the warmed up nightwear*. All this was normal at the time and we knew no different, we did not expect rooms to be warm during winter. Warmth did not come to you, but you went to it, the red and yellow coals in the grate.

* "dash" Ish goes up after D and down after T, to provide some distinction in outlines

* "properly" Insert the first vowel, and the diphone in "appropriately", as these are similar in outline and meaning

* "nightwear" Insert the first vowel in this and in "knitwear" "underwear" "footwear" as they are all similar. "underwear" is using a short form so has no vowel there, but inserting one above the Nd would help clarify if necessary.

I remember one bitter winter’s night piling some cushions on top of the blankets to provide the maximum barrier to the cold. That did not result in much increase of warmth, as I had hoped it would, and the weight of the materials on the bed was probably squeezing out any warm air that managed to accumulate. I should have put the cushions round me and built a little cave, as I now know that it is the retention of the warm air underneath that does the job, not the weight of fabric piled on. Some years later, duvets became fashionable and widely available, and what a revelation* that was, light as a feather and extremely warm. Instead of sucking the heat out of me like before, it seemed to reflect it back. I immediately revised all my previous ideas on insulation and gladly never went back to the heavy blankets. Even better, I could actually turn over in bed without up-ending the mini mountain of assorted materials heaped over me.

* "revelation" Essential to insert the vowel, so it is not misread as "revolution"

Nowadays I am in full co-operation with my “internal thermal resistance”, with a drawer of hats, gloves and fluffy socks, a modest stash of knitting yarn in a box* under the bed and a neck warmer in progress on the knitting needles. The promised snow during next week will look much more* decorative and unthreatening, as the rows of insulating wool-blend yarn form themselves into a cosy tube shape, with extra rows added to cover the annoying exposed area at the back where any scarf tends to unhelpfully fold itself up and still let in the cold. I will finally be able to totally ignore “formulas that qualitatively predict the effect of wind on the temperature that humans* perceive” as I will have achieved thermal victory at last. (777 words)

* "box" Insert the vowel so it does not look like "bags", care also needed with "packs" "packets" "pockets"

* Omission phrase "much m(ore)

* "humans" Above the line, following the last vowel, as a special outline to distinguish it from "humane", similarly "woman" and "women"