News Local/State

How Cold Is Too Cold For School?

The National Weather Service Wind Chill Chart.

The National Weather Service has a wind chill chart to help people determine how dangerously cold it is outside. National Weather Service/Public Domain

Over the past few years we’ve been seeing more school cancellations due to cold temperatures or wind chills. But, how cold is too cold?

In 2001, The National Weather Service changed the wind chill calculations – to produce a more accurate measurement of how cold, blowing air feels to the bare skin.

Urbana School District 116 Superintendent Don Owen uses a Weather Service wind chill chart to determine how long skin can be exposed to the outdoor air before frostbite sets in. "People always ask me to give a number that will cancel school, but I don't give them a number. I use the wind chill chart. Anything that hits between that 10 to 30 minute range (until frostbite), I get concerned," Owen said.

When the National Weather Service issues a wind chill advisory, Owen starts monitoring the forecast closely, and if there is a wind chill warning he will probably cancel school.

The state of Illinois does not have a set temperature or policy to cancel school due to cold weather. Owen says it is strictly a school superintendent’s decision.