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How long does it take to get frostbite?

One of the many snow scenes this month in Augusta County.
One of the many snow scenes this month in Augusta County.(Tony Alverson)
Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 6:52 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 26, 2022 at 6:53 PM EST
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(WHSV) - It’s been rather cold the past few weeks as temperatures are once again forecasted to fall into the single digits Thursday morning, or even below zero for some in our viewing area. How long and how cold does it have to be to get frostbite?

It’s important to understand that actual temperature is not the true indicator. Wind chills are what forecasters use to notify the public for dangerous cold. Our skin cools down quicker with more wind. The Allegheny Front is under a Wind Chill Advisory from 6pm Wednesday to 8am Thursday as wind chills could drop to as cold as 15 degrees below zero.

Frostbite starts to become a concern once wind chills drop to 18 degrees below zero. At wind chills of 18 degrees below zero, frostbite can happen on any exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes. Wind chills enter that category if it were 0 degrees outside and there is a 15 mph wind. Once wind chills drop to 32 below zero, frostbite can happen in as little as 10 minutes. With wind chills at 48 below zero or colder, frostbite can happen in as little as 5 minutes. Fortunately, we don’t see wind chills in our area that are 48 below zero. That’s more for the upper Midwest.

The National Weather Service has a chart on the amount of time to get frostbite.

Wind chills are what matter with frost bite, not the actual temperature.
Wind chills are what matter with frost bite, not the actual temperature.(NWS)

While wind chills won’t get down to dangerous levels in most of our area, keep in mind hypothermia is also another common thing that can happen.

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