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home : activities : sports & outdoors February 19, 2017

2/1/2013 3:43:00 PM
Okanogan-Wentchee National Forest can be quite cold, especially with the wind

Submitted by Robin DeMario, USFS

Anyone who has had the opportunity to recreate in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest lately can attest to the cold conditions outside! Forest visitors need to keep wind chill in mind when recreating in the national forest or doing any type of outside activity.

Wind, temperature and moisture are factors which can greatly affect the safety of a winter traveler or recreationist. Each contributes to the loss of body heat. Wind chill is the temperature it "feels like" outside and is 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.

The wind chill chart illustrates the effect of wind and temperatures on a dry, properly clothed person. If clothing is wet from perspiration or precipitation, the net effect of wind and temperature is much greater.

When clothes get wet, they lose about 90 percent of their insulating value. Wool loses less; cotton, down and synthetics lose more. Choose rain clothes that are proof against wind-driven rain and snow, and cover head, neck, body and legs. Polyurethane coated nylon is best. Ponchos are poor protection from the wind.

When recreating in the woods during cold weather conditions, it is best to wear layers of clothing which can be adjusted to prevailing conditions. A good-quality windbreaker jacket and wind pants are excellent. Avoid tight-fitting clothes and boots which may restrict circulation.

It is always a good idea to carry extra equipment with you when recreating in the National Forest. Right now, when the weather is so cold, it would be prudent to take extra socks and gloves or mittens, a warm cap, matches in a waterproof container, candle, fire-starter, nylon cord, general-purpose knife, high-energy food, plastic tarp, space blanket, signal mirror, first aid kit, wide tape for repairs and a metal container for melting snow.

Whatever your recreation plans may involve, remember to dress appropriately, be prepared for the unexpected and be aware of the wind chill factor. For more information regarding winter recreation safety, please contact any national forest office.

Following is a National Weather Service wind chill chart that will tell you how cold it feels when the wind chill factor is taken into account.

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