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  #1  
Old 30 July 2012, 05:17 PM
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Canada "Wet cold" vs. "dry cold"

Comment: I have a question about what I think is a myth but is comonly
believed.

There is a common misconception that "wet cold" vs "dry cold" result in a
different experience ie: a very cold place that is "dry" feels less cold
than a place that has high humidity." Therefore a place like Toronto that
is 25 degrees fahrenheit but more humid feels colder than Calgary at 10
degrees fahrenheit but is drier.

I have read (somewhere) that this is a myth - that below freezing the
levels of humidity in the air have no effect whatsoever on perceived
temperature to people. Of course, the reverse is true in warm
temperatures: high humidity in the air makes it feel much warmer
("humidex".)

Virtually EVERYONE in Canada believes in the "it's cold but it's a dry
cold so it isn't so bad". I have heard the explanation for this perception
is that dry cold tends to occur in sunny places so people feel better out
in the sun vs a wet cold where it is overcast.
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  #2  
Old 30 July 2012, 05:34 PM
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A wet cold glues your whiskers together, icing your mustache till you look like a walrus.

A dry cold just freezes your nostrils shut.

Both kinds of colds are enough to freeze the brass balls off a canon ball bearing witch's monkey.

Is that the correct expression?

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  #3  
Old 30 July 2012, 05:39 PM
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At least around here wet cold is something that happens closer to freezing and once it drops below a certain temperature it is always dry cold.

That said, when we have very damp weather right around freezing I fnd it hard to feel warm even if I am in the house.
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Old 30 July 2012, 05:43 PM
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It probably isn't below freezing on most "wet cold" days here, but it certainly feels a lot colder and less pleasant than "dry cold" days, while skiing for example, which are below freezing. You don't need to read it in books - it's about perception; you can feel it for yourself just by experiencing both...

I'm sure there's a point where even dry cold becomes unbearable - I found it in Seoul for one - but that's not really relevant. After a point, around 0 degrees C I assume, the water freezes out of the air anyway and so it's all "dry cold".

(eta)
Quote:
I have read (somewhere) that this is a myth - that below freezing the levels of humidity in the air have no effect whatsoever on perceived temperature to people.

... I have heard the explanation for this perception is that dry cold tends to occur in sunny places so people feel better out in the sun vs a wet cold where it is overcast.
That doesn't make sense anyway. It doesn't really feel colder, it just feels as though it feels colder? Hmm...
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Old 30 July 2012, 05:47 PM
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I know that early spring rain days feel colder than snowy days in winter to me. I always thought it was psychological, because in spring the temperature goes up and down, whereas in winter is stays down constantly.
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Old 30 July 2012, 05:47 PM
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It always seems warmer to me if there's snow on the ground (to reflect the light, I assume)--how would this fit in?
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Old 30 July 2012, 06:06 PM
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Heavt breathing

To the extent that the air holds additional moisture, it will be much more able to take heat away from your body. All substances have a property called 'specific heat' which is the ability of that substance to absorb and release heat energy. The water molecule has one of the highest specific heat ratings, much higher than any other significant gas, due to its angular shape. As air gets colder, its ability to hold water as vapor decreases, until you get to where precipitation happens - the dew point. When air with a substantial amount of vapor blows across your skin, it absorbs heat more readily than very dry air. As noted above, very dry air is always dry - it just cannot hold much moisture.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Avril View Post
It always seems warmer to me if there's snow on the ground (to reflect the light, I assume)--how would this fit in?
That may be. Another factor is that the snow can get much colder than freezing temp readily, so it may be 'absorbing the cold' (technically, it would be rleasing its heat to the air right above it, making a layer near it which is not as cold as higher up), depending of course on the wind.
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Old 30 July 2012, 06:07 PM
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Heavt breathing

To the extent that the air holds additional moisture, it will be much more able to take heat away from your body. All substances have a property called 'specific heat' which is the ability of that substance to absorb and release heat energy. The water molecule has one of the highest specific heat ratings, much higher than any other significant gas, due to its angular shape. As air gets colder, its ability to hold water as vapor decreases, until you get to where precipitation happens - the dew point. When air with a substantial amount of vapor blows across your skin, it absorbs heat more readily than very dry air. As noted above, very dry air is always dry - it just cannot hold much moisture.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Avril View Post
It always seems warmer to me if there's snow on the ground (to reflect the light, I assume)--how would this fit in?
That may be. Another factor is that the snow can get much colder than freezing temp readily, so it may be 'absorbing the cold' (technically, it would be rleasing its heat to the air right above it, making a layer near it which is not as cold as higher up), depending of course on the wind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alarm View Post
Around -40 Celsius, it no longer matters if it's dry cold or wet cold...
It also doesn't matter if you use Celsius or Fahrenheit at that temperature.
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  #9  
Old 30 July 2012, 05:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
I'm sure there's a point where even dry cold becomes unbearable - I found it in Seoul for one - but that's not really relevant. After a point, around 0 degrees C I assume, the water freezes out of the air anyway and so it's all "dry cold".
Around -40 Celsius, it no longer matters if it's dry cold or wet cold...


But if you sweat or your clothes get wet because you're in deep, wet snow, then it matters, because you'll get hypothermic much faster.
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  #10  
Old 30 July 2012, 07:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
That doesn't make sense anyway. It doesn't really feel colder, it just feels as though it feels colder? Hmm...
To be fair, the claim is probably that somebody did experiments in a controlled chamber with different levels of humidity and temperature but all other factors the same, and asked people how warm or cold they felt, and didn't find a difference in perception with humidity because the factor that makes people feel colder when it's "wet cold" outside isn't the actual humidity. It's just that the way it was phrased makes it sound as though people don't really feel colder in the "wet cold" conditions.
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Old 30 July 2012, 08:56 PM
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"Wet cold" - humid air has greater mass air flow and more cooling power, in the same way that moving air has more cooling capability (wind chill). It feels different and acts differently. Consider that the higher density of cold, humid air improves the performance of internal combustion engines because, well, there's more air transport.

Actual dampness also reduces the insulation value of warm clothing - wool is an exception to that but the moisture-wicking polypropylene underwear for skiing and other winter sports is much less effective when wet. This is a factor for areas with daytime rain and night-time temperatures below freezing. A thermometer won't bear this out, but a person standing in it will.
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  #12  
Old 31 July 2012, 06:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alarm View Post
A wet cold glues your whiskers together, icing your mustache till you look like a walrus.
You are the walrus, coo coo ca choo.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alarm View Post
Both kinds of colds are enough to freeze the brass balls off a canon ball bearing witch's monkey.

Is that the correct expression?

That it exactly
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