wind chill factor, do plants feel it?

stompoutbermuda(Z8DesertSunsetZ11)September 14, 2009

The wind has been blowing all day and tonight. My temp guage says it was 98 today and 71 tonight. BUT it didnt feel hot out today and tonight it feels much cooler then 71, because of the wind. I saw something at the store a couple of days ago that measures the wind chill factor for $90 and am wondering if I need it for the plants this winter. I mean, is my thermometer going to say it's 39 degrees out, but the wind is blowing and my plants think and feel and die like it's below freezing?

Thanks!

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fabaceae_native

That's a great question...

I'll tell you my thought in a minute, but for sure DO NOT buy the $90 wind chill gizmo, if you have a way to estimate wind speed (such as your local weather forecast) and a thermometer, then all you need is a chart to calculate wind chill. It's simply based on temperature and wind speed, and I'm sure you can find the chart online in a snap. Oh, also the weather underground website will show you weather data from private weather stations in your neighborhood, for very local wind speeds and temperatures.

I don't know for sure, but I would highly doubt that the wind chill can affect plants that way. It would mean that every surface would be cooled below the temperature of the air, which doesn't seem possible. I THINK that wind chill just applies to the exposed skin of humans, that it makes the air feel colder because it is stealing the body heat from our skin at a faster rate than normally at a specific air temperature. Wind does dry things out faster of course, which is definitely a concern for plants. One other note is that the coldest winter temps typically occur when there are clear skies and no wind anyway.

Hope this helps...

    Bookmark   September 14, 2009 at 10:20AM
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pasadena(z6-7WA)

I don't know if I would call it wind chill, but wind can have an effect on the temperature of the plant surfaces. As fabaceae_native notes, it won't cool the plant below the air temperature, but it can cool the plant down to the air temperature.

Plant surfaces in direct sun, especially fruit with a limited number of stomates and no other mechanism for cooling, can be 30 degrees warmer than the air temperature. This can lead to considerable damage under quite average conditions.

However, just a slight breeze can disrupt the thin boundary layer of still air next to the plant and allow cooler air to come in contact with the plant.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2009 at 2:11PM
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flattie

Only if they are hotter than the ambient air temperature, e.g. when the storm is just arriving. Otherwise, no. But winds can dessicate floiage in winter - a potentially bigger problem than temperature.

As an engineer who deals in heat transfer, wind chill has very little scientific meaning. The definition of it is open to criticism.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2009 at 12:57AM
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