I know the title is a little ambiguous. I'm not sure how best to summarize.

I'm trying to find some kind of algorithm or process to determine how quickly one would acquire frostbite or freeze to death in extreme conditions.

I'm less looking for a quick answer, instead looking for a way to calculate or understand the variables.

For example, in temperatures around -10°C/14°F and winds around 120 to 160 mph (or higher), how quickly would that freeze skin or kill a human?

  • 2
    There are a LOT of variables to consider.
    – Carey Gregory
    Oct 4, 2018 at 0:10
  • 4
    120 - 160mph would equate to a category 3 - category 5 hurricane under the saffir-simpson scale, so there would not just be the cold to deal with. That aside, this is an interesting question. Oct 4, 2018 at 8:23

1 Answer 1


Search on windchill frostbite.


About 30 minutes to frostbite in windchill of -20.

You would likely die of hypothermia before you would die from frost bite.

Calculate windchill

Calculate the wind chill using the National Weather Service's new formula. Multiply the temperature by 0.6215 and then add 35.74. Subtract 35.75 multiplied by the wind speed calculated to the 0.16 power. Finally, add 0.4275 multiplied by temperature, multiplied by wind speed calculated to the 0.16 power. Your result is defined as T(wc), which equals the current local wind chill factor.

  • 2
    "You would likely die of hypothermia before frost bite." Wow, that's a bold statement. Where did you get that from when there are examples of people on polar expeditions who returned home alive but with frostbite? Oct 4, 2018 at 8:11
  • @ChrisRogers Die from and have are not the same. If I have a severed arm (bleeding controlled) and pneumonia I am likely to die from the pneumonia first but I would sill have the severed arm. Frost bite would rarely be cause of death. If you have extensive frost bite then hypothermia is on the way.
    – paparazzo
    Oct 6, 2018 at 13:30

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