Opinion: Let's stop using "feels like" when referring to the weather

Feb 14 2020, 1:23 pm

“It’s going to be cold tomorrow, wear a scarf.”

That’s all the information we really need when looking at the weather — are we doing sunglasses or long underwear?

As someone who frequently covers the weather, it’s frustrating to have two different temperatures: the ‘regular’ digit and the ‘feels like’ number.

For example, I’m 5’6” but just because I feel like 6’3” doesn’t actually make me tall.

If you go into a restaurant and say, “I’ll have the salad but I feel like a burger” — you’re getting the house salad.

In Canada, we have ‘feels like,’ ‘wind chill,’ and ‘humidex values.’ Are weather agencies saying the actual temperature is fake? Because personally, I like when my temperature ‘feels like’ the actual temperature.

If I’m about to shovel my car out of the snow, and it’s -20ºC but ‘feels like’ 10 degrees colder, it’s -30ºC outside. Shovel that car out of the snow on a frigid Saturday morning in February and tell me it’s actually 10 degrees warmer.

Just tell us the weather.

If it ‘feels like’ negative blah blah blahºC, then that’s the weather. Because, if I have the opportunity to add numbers to measurements, I’m certainly not going to waste it on temperatures.

To whittle everything down — I want less details when it comes to weather. I want more than “it’s cold outside” but less than “it’s cold outside, temperatures are expected to dip to -15ºC with a feels like temperature of -24ºC.”

According to Environment Canada’s Melissa MacDonald, “wind chill is a calculation that uses the wind speed and the temperature to determine a ‘feels like’ temperature.”

She tells Daily Hive that the formula used to calculate wind chill is based on experiments with “appropriately dressed” human subjects and how they felt at a given temperature and wind speed.

So, essentially, the way wind chill is decided is basically all I want to know: What clothes do I wear when I go outside?

“On a calm day,” continues MacDonald, “our bodies insulate us somewhat from the outside temperature by warming up a thin layer of air close to our skin, known as the boundary layer. When the wind blows, it takes this protective layer away exposing our skin to the outside air. It takes energy for our bodies to warm up a new layer, and if each one keeps getting blown away, our skin temperature will drop, and we will feel colder.”

Environment Canada says it has been using wind chill as a weather descriptor since 2001.

Crazy, huh? How 2001 was 19 years ago but feels like it was only five.

What do you think? Do you like more details when it comes to weather or less? Or, is the cold weather freezing the sensible parts of my brain?

I don’t know how your workday is going so far but I ‘feel like’ having a beer…

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