(MUNCIE) – The potential for subzero weather in the next few days should be taken seriously, says Jill Coleman, a meteorologist at Ball State University.
She notes the National Weather Service (NWS) has issued wind chill watch/extreme cold advisory from Tuesday evening through Thursday morning for most of Indiana. The combination of a southward moving continental Arctic air mass combined with moderate-strong sustained wind speeds (about 20 mph) can create dangerously low wind chill values.
“To keep the next couple days in perspective, the average temperature in Muncie in January is 27 degrees with average January high temperature of 34 degrees and average low temperature of 19 degrees,” Coleman said. “The record low temperature of -29 degrees in Muncie occurred on Jan. 18, 1994. On that day, wind gusts were around 20 miles per hour, which created a wind chill temperature of around -60 degrees.
“Hence, we will be approaching record-like low-temperature conditions this week – an unusual but not unheard of occurrence.”
Coleman said wind chill watches and/or extreme cold advisories are given generally when temperatures will be less than -30 degrees for more than three hours over a large geographical area.
Wind chill examines how fast the human body cools due to air motion which is accelerated when temperatures fall below 45 degrees.
“In the next day or so, Muncie and the surrounding areas are expecting a minimum temperature of -10 degrees with winds around 20 mph which will make temperatures feel like -40 degrees. In these conditions, frostbite on exposed skin can occur in as little as 10-15 minutes. These are extremely dangerous conditions for people and animals to be outdoors for any length of time, and the best protection would be to stay indoors and move all animals inside.”