Wind Chill Frostbite Chart – Quick Guide Risk Assessment Temperatures


Based on NWS Wind Chill frostbite chart data and ‘Defence R&D Canada – Toronto’, a quick temperature assessment guide to your personal risk:

Wind Chill Frostbite Hazard

Wind Chill Temperature versus Time to Frostbite:

(temperatures in degrees-F)

32 to 16 (Low Risk)

14 to -17 (Moderate Risk)

-18 to -38 (High Risk) 10 to 30 minutes

-40 to -52 (Very High Risk) 5 to 10 minutes

-54 to -65 (Severe Risk) 2 to 5 minutes

-67 and colder (Extreme Risk) less than 2 minutes

Note that time to frostbite increases more quickly when wind chill temperatures fall below -17.

(data source)

Frostbite Chart

The wind chill chart shown below is a temperature index which accurately indicates how cold the air feels on human skin.

The wind chill chart also includes a frostbite indicator. This reveals the temperatures at which wind speed coupled with skin exposure time will produce frostbite.

How To Use

To find the wind chill and time to frostbite:

Intersect or cross reference the top horizontal line (air temperature) with the wind speed along the left side vertical axis.

To find frostbite time, compare the cross referenced wind chill temperature with the color shade. The shaded colors represent a range of time to frostbite:

0 – 5 minutes (PURPLE)
5 – 10 minutes (dark blue)
10 – 30 minutes (blue)

How to use wind chill chart

For example, using the wind chill chart,
An air temperature of 0°F with a wind speed of 15 mph will produce a wind chill temperature of -19°F. Under these conditions, exposed skin will freeze solid ( frostbite ) in approximately 30 minutes!

Lets say you’re snowmobiling (skiing?) in an air temperature of 0°F (not very comfortable!) and you’re traveling 30 mph. That’s -26 wind chill. Any exposed skin will freeze solid in about 15 minutes.

You’re a ‘diehard’ ice fisherman and out on a frozen lake with air temperatures hovering between 5°F and 0°F. The wind isn’t terribly strong, but steady across the lake at about 10-15mph. Guess what… you’re skin might freeze with frostbite in about 30 minutes…

Download and print your own full-size wind chill frostbite chart:

>> Wind Chill Frostbite Chart

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>> HotHands Hand Warmers
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What is Wind Chill Temperature?

It’s the “feels like” temperature. It’s based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin caused by the effects of wind and cold. As the wind increases, the body is cooled at a faster rate causing the skin temperature to drop.

Wind chill does not impact objects that are ‘not alive’ like car radiators and exposed water pipes, because these objects cannot cool below the actual air temperature.

What is Frostbite?

Frostbite is an injury to the body caused by freezing body tissue. The most susceptible parts of the body are the extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, or the tip of the nose.

Symptoms include a loss of feeling in the extremity and a white or pale appearance. Medical attention is needed immediately for frostbite. The area should be SLOWLY re-warmed.

Cold Weather Tips

Hand and Foot Warmers

From experience I can tell you that these hand and toe warmers work very well! I always keep a box of each. When activated they stay warm for about 6 – 8 hours!

Best Selling Hand Warmers
Toe Warmers
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Avoid Cotton

As the adage goes, “cotton kills.” Like a cotton towel soaks up water, cotton clothes will hold onto water for a long time. If they get wet, they stay wet. Nylon, synthetics, silk, and wool are the way to go.


Wear layers of loose fitting warm clothing. Trapped air between layers provides insulation.


Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent, and hooded.

Face, Eyes, Head

Goggles to protect your eyes and part of face. Wear a hat! Apparently 40% of your body heat can be lost from your head. Wear a face mask to cover your mouth, nose, and protect your lungs.


[ Read: Best Gloves With Thinsulate Insulation ]

Clean Clothes

Keep your clothing clean. Dirty clothes clog the insulating properties.


Avoid overheating. When you sweat you loose heat faster.

Keep Active

Generate body heat without overheating (sweating).

Keep dry

Water, sweat, dampness will pull the heat from your body.

[ Read: The Warmest Survival Blanket – Wool Or Polar Fleece? ]

What is Hypothermia?

Hypothermia is abnormally low body temperature (below 95 degrees Fahrenheit). Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. Medical attention is needed immediately. If it is not available, begin warming the body SLOWLY.

[ Read: How To Prevent Frostbite, Hypothermia ]


  1. This post reminded me of a story I came across when researching my family’s roots in Northern Minnesota. In March1941, a sudden blizzard struck the Red River Valley with no warning. A number of those caught out in it got lost and died. They recorded stories of survivors and later, in 1992, a book about the event was published. It’s called Looking for Candles in the Window. Families turned on all their lights, hoping to guide anyone lost outside to their homes, just as pioneers had done in earlier times. It’s a tragedy that hopefully we can learn from.

  2. There’s also the schoolhouse blizzard of January 1888 on the plains that tragically took the lives of many students trying to get home.

  3. Thanks for the information and the reminder Ken. We had -21 overnight Saturday night here. Sure puts the “feels like” temperature into perspective. I like to tell people who don’t live up in this neck of the woods that their freezer is warmer than my air temp outside.

    In response to the winter storm references above, my wife’s older side of the family remembers their parents braving that storm from 1941 and to this day reminds us of it.

  4. i learned about this long ago i worked on a snow removal crew during one of the worst winters in us history between that and all the hitch hiking i did i learned what works and what does FAST

  5. Been keeping an eye on the weather headed my way and it ain’t pretty……You folks north of me are in for a ride……when they are talking single digits and wind chills double digits below zero for northwest Arkansas, well that don’t bode well for those to my north.

    Another couple of rounds of freezing rain supposed to start tomorrow night through to the weekend, then it’s supposed to get serious cold with more ice followed by snow.

    I stay ready, but can always find improvements to my preps. Weather and road conditions permitting, I’ve got a blood draw in town in the morning. I’ll pick up another couple sacks of chicken feed……. maybe a few sacks of corn and scratch grain for the deer, turkey, and birds….ice storms are tough on them.

    Life is good on the mountain….occasionally has some challenges….always interesting…….

    P.S.- I lay the blame of the cold weather squarely on the all these electric vehicles and not near enough cow farts……

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