Public Information Statement
Issued by NWS Portland, ME
NOUS41 KGYX 021039
Public Information Statement
National Weather Service Gray ME
700 AM EST Wed Nov 2 2016
The National Weather Service offices that serve New England have
declared the week of October 31st through November 4th, WINTER
WEATHER AWARENESS WEEK. In conjunction with WINTER WEATHER
AWARENESS WEEK, the National Weather Service Office in Gray will be
issuing Public Information Statements concerning many aspects of
winter weather and winter weather preparedness. This is the third
in a series of five Public Information Statements to be issued this
...EXTREME COLD, HYPOTHERMIA, FROSTBITE, AND WIND CHILL...
Cold air, strong winds, and cold wind chill temperatures are common
in Northern New England during winter. However, if you are not
prepared, these cold conditions can lead to hypothermia, frostbite,
and possibly death. To understand the dangers and warning signs
associated with the cold, let`s examine how the human body regulates
The human body loses heat during the winter due to the conduction
and convection of heat from the skin to nearby air, due to
evaporation of moisture from the skin surface, and due to normal
respiration. To compensate for this heat loss, the body burns
energy to produce heat to keep the body temperature at a relatively
constant level. However, if a body loses heat faster than it can
produce heat, the body temperature will cool to below normal levels,
a medical condition known as hypothermia.
HYPOTHERMIA will gradually worsen unless the overall rate of heat
loss can be stopped. The warning signs for hypothermia may start
with shivering and shaking and may end in death. Initially, as the
body temperature starts to drop, shivering begins. At the same
time, the brain begins to reduce the amount of blood that is
circulated to the extremities of the body in order to conserve heat
for the vital organs near the body`s central core. If the central
core of the body continues to cool, uncontrollable shaking, memory
loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and
apparent exhaustion may develop. These are all signs of a very
serious situation. If the body core temperature drops below 95
degrees Fahrenheit, just 4 degrees below normal, immediate care is
needed, as the person will likely become irrational. Once the body
core temperature drops below 90 degrees, the person loses muscle
control, and outside help is the person`s only hope for survival.
If that help is not available, heart and/or respiratory failure and
death will eventually follow as the core temperature continues to
If a person is suffering from hypothermia, it`s critically important
that the person be warmed properly. If warmed improperly, death may
result. In a hypothermic person, cold blood is concentrated in the
extremities. If these extremities are warmed too quickly, this cold
blood will be released into the body`s central core, possibly
lowering the central core temperature to a fatal level. Use the
following steps to raise the core temperature of a hypothermic
Get the person into dry clothing if their clothes are wet.
Put on additional clothing to warm the person`s head and trunk,
such as a hat and vest.
Wrap the person in a warm blanket and be sure their head and
neck are covered. Do not cover their extremities.
Give them warm liquids to drink, but no alcohol, drugs, or
Seek medical attention, if necessary.
Remember, temperatures do not have to be below freezing for
hypothermia to develop. The combination of temperature, wind, and
exposure to the elements can be deadly. Hypothermia can develop in
elderly people in a cool room with few, if any, warning signs.
FROSTBITE is a condition in which the body tissue actually freezes.
Frostbite is often associated with hypothermia. In a hypothermic
person, the brain greatly reduces the amount of blood that is
circulated to the extremities of the body and they begin to cool.
This increases the chances that the tissue at the end of the
extremity may actually freeze. The most susceptible areas for
frostbite include the fingers, toes, nose, and ear lobes.
...WIND CHILL TEMPERATURE...
Cold air and high winds contribute the possibility that a person may
develop hypothermia or frostbite. To help measure the cooling
effects of wind and cold air on the human body, a value known as the
wind chill temperature was developed. While inanimate objects are
not affected by wind chill, warm blooded animals, including humans,
are susceptible to the cooling affects from the wind.
To alert people to the dangers associated with the combination of
wind and cold temperatures, the National Weather Service issues Wind
Chill Warnings and Wind Chill Advisories. The following values are
used for all of New Hampshire and western and southern Maine.
WIND CHILL WARNINGS - issued for wind chill temperatures
of -30 degrees or colder
WIND CHILL ADVISORIES - issued for wind chill temperatures
between -20 and -30 degrees
Extremely cold temperatures, even without wind, also increase the
threat of frostbite, especially if you are outside over an extended
period of time. Be sure to dress appropriately for any outside
activities on cold days.
PREPAREDNESS TIP FOR THE DAY:
During very cold and windy days, wear layered clothing. Each layer
of clothing traps a small amount of air that helps insulate the body
from the outside cold and wind. The top layers will cut down on the
penetration of the wind, allowing the lower layers to trap heat, thus
lowering the amount of heat that the wind can carry away from the
QUESTION OF THE DAY:
Does the wind chill temperature affect my car or car battery? Will
my car be harder to start when the wind chill temperature is cold?
ANSWER:No to both questions. Your car and your car`s battery are
affected only by the actual temperature. Wind chill
temperatures are a measure of the rate of heat loss from
the human body. For a car left overnight, the temperature
of the car is approximately the same as the surrounding
air, so there would be no additional heat loss due to wind,
hence no wind chill. In general, morning temperatures
are coldest on nights with little or no wind. Therefore,
your car battery is more likely to fail on a night with
little or no wind than a windy night.
Here`s a listing of the topics that have been or will be covered in
Public Information Statements during WINTER WEATHER AWARENESS WEEK.
Monday...October 31 - Winter Weather Basics.
Tuesday...November 1 - WATCH...WARNING...and ADVISORY
criteria for winter storms.
Wednesday...November 2 - Wind Chill...Extreme Cold...
Frostbite and Hypothermia.
Thursday...November 3 - High Wind...Coastal Flood...and
Dense Fog threats.
Friday...November 4 - Winter Weather Preparedness
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE