Skip to main content

How long does it take to get frostbite when it's this cold?

When temps are below zero and the wind is blowing, damage can happen pretty quickly.

This is one of those days where even Randy might not be bundled up enough.

Frigid temps continue to call Minnesota home, with thermometers once again dipping well below zero. (For a specific forecast, punch in your ZIP code here.)

The National Weather Service says northern Minnesota won't get out of the negative Wednesday, while the southern half of the state could inch up into the very low single digits. At night, the lows will plummet – everywhere in the state will hit at least -10.

There's a wind chill advisory from about Willmar and St. Cloud all the way to the Canadian border through Wednesday morning, with the wind chill itself expected to be around -25 or -30 degrees.

How quickly can frostbite become an issue?

The National Weather Service uses the word "dangerous" or phrase "dangerously cold" when temps and wind chills sink this low. That's because exposed skin can end up frostbitten in less time than it takes to get through a Vine compilation.

If the temperature is -5 and the wind is blowing at about 10 mph, the wind chill at that point is -22. Skin that isn't covered could get frostbite in 30 minutes.

At -15 with wind gusts of 25 mph, the wind chill is -44 – and can lead to frostbite in 10 minutes.

The National Weather Service has a chart to calculate this. Find the current temperature along the top, and line it up with the wind speed along the Y axis. The corresponding box tells you the wind chill, with the color showing how fast frostbite can happen.

The levels of frostbite

There are different levels of frostbite. It can be just superficial, for instance, and might even be "frostnip." That's the first stage, when your skin gets red or pale and goes numb (maybe even feels tingly or prickly), Mayo Clinic says. That's generally not something that will permanently damage the skin, as long as you don't keep the area exposed.

The next levels are more serious.

According to HCMC, if your reddened/pale skin starts to feel warm, there might be some nerve and tissue damage. Mayo Clinic says ice crystals can even form in there. After the area warms up again, you can get blisters in the couple days that follow.

The final stage kills the tissue. If exposed and out in the cold too long, the layers of skin will freeze and tissue beneath the surface will die. All feeling goes away, the joints and muscles stop working, and even after being warmed up the area turns black and hardens, HCMC and Mayo Clinic say.

If it becomes that severe, you'e looking at surgery and amputation.

Avoid the frigid cold, but if you have to go out, layer up and cover as much skin as you can. And if you feel even frostnip setting in, find some warmth.

Next Up

monkeypox virus

Minnesota up to 6 confirmed cases of monkeypox virus

Most people recover at home within 2-4 weeks.

thc edibles

Did Minnesota just accidentally legalize THC?

A Republican lawmaker who voted to approve the new law in May is already talking about rolling it back.

Screen Shot 2022-06-30 at 3.19.42 PM

Gasoline may be cause of sewer explosion on U of M campus

An all-clear was given around 9 p.m. Thursday, with residents in the area allowed to return to their homes.

image

Overwhelming demand for THC products on first day of new law in MN

One shop owner said his Chaska store broke the online sales record before they opened Friday morning.

Flickr - Lake Minnetonka boat - Greg Gjerdingen

Increased drunk boating enforcement over 4th of July weekend

The increased enforcement is part of the Operation Dry Water initiative.

Kayak

Four kayakers stranded, rescued in Chisholm park

The kayakers became stranded at Redhead Mountain Bike Park Thursday afternoon.

SherburneCoJailDrugArrests

Duo charged after 10-pound meth package sent to wrong address

More than 10 pounds of meth are off the street thanks to a delivery error.

Screen Shot 2022-07-01 at 11.01.32 AM

Bird Rides' suburban expansion continues in Minnesota

Its scooter season in Minnesota. The latest on where you can find Bird e-scooters:

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Man found dead with 'trauma to his face' in St. Paul

A man was found dead with "trauma to his face" in St. Paul after 3 a.m.

Hibbing ambulance

Boyfriend jailed after woman found dead in Hibbing

The woman was found dead on Tuesday, June 28.

ambulance

2 motorcyclists killed in crash near Duluth

The crash happened at a curve in the road north of Duluth.

Life Link

18 injured in two separate crashes involving teen drivers

The crashes happened Thursday in Ham Lake and North Branch Township.

Related

Light snow south of I-94 Sunday, stupid cold Monday, Tuesday

Below zero air temps in southern Minnesota? That's stupid for this time of year.

Winter is back on: It's going to get pretty cold this week

The wind chill will fall below zero this week.

Minneapolis, cold

How close will MSP get to record for consecutive subzero hours?

We probably deserve this since there were no days below zero at MSP in January.

List of bitter-cold wind chills in Minnesota Thursday morning

It's going to feel extremely cold until temps start to moderate on Friday.