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You can thank this Eagle Scout for the wind chill (or at least its name)

siple-silver-buffaloOK, so maybe it’s unfair to blame Paul Siple for the cold weather blanketing the country this week, including below-freezing temps from Washington State to the Florida Panhandle and all across the Northeast.

But Siple, who earned the Eagle Scout rank in 1923, is responsible for coining the term we use to describe just how cold it feels out there: “wind chill.”

The Sea Scout, Silver Buffalo Award recipient, Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow and Antarctic explorer died in 1968 at age 59. But his legacy lives on every time we check the weather apps on our phone before stepping outside.

As this Order of the Arrow writeup explains, Siple was chosen among 600,000 Scouts to join an Antarctic expedition in 1928. Siple’s place on the expedition had to be publicly funded; “pennies, nickels and dimes” were raised by the Weekly Reader “to help send Paul to the Antarctic.” His companion on the trip was none other than Admiral Richard Byrd.

Siple later wrote four books, appeared on the cover of Time magazine and became a hero to all Scouts.

But “wind chill” is his most lasting legacy. Siple did doctoral thesis research on the ways in which wind affects how humans feel outside. So the next time you check the weather to decide whether to add another layer, think of this great Eagle Scout.

H/T: Thanks to Eagle Scout and Scouting magazine contributor Mark Ray for the post idea.

8 Comments on You can thank this Eagle Scout for the wind chill (or at least its name)

  1. I like the certificate, we need to go back to that format 🙂

  2. Shawn Stevens // January 29, 2014 at 1:57 pm // Reply

    Way back when I was a Scout, we were on a camp out and one of the other Scouts was asked, “what is a wind chill?” His answer was “a donut shop” (as in Winchell Donuts). LOL

  3. Why do I need an ID and password to like the daily blog entry of the day from Bryon? What ID and password would I have signed up previously to gain entry into whatever. Having no idea what ID and PW I was being asked for, I put in my My Scouting ID and PW which weren’t accepted. My My Scouting ID starts with a capitalized letter and the rejection response showed the ID I entered not starting with a capitalized letter.
    Where are you posting this comment? I don’t want my name or critical comment out in general circulation. I don’t complain about things to recipients I don’t know. If I knew that this comment wasn’t going to a specific person I would not have sent a complaint.

  4. Pride of Erie PA!

  5. John W. Owen // February 16, 2014 at 9:31 pm // Reply

    Thank you for printing this. I am a collector of Siple philatelic and history memorabilia and this is worth reading and saving which I have. YIS, John W. Owen,Sr. Eagle-Class of 1962 South Carolina

  6. This is awesome. Scouts show up in a lot of places. A friend from our Council, Bartley Davis, is in the Antarctic now with a group of scientists. I would bet he knows quite a bit about wind chill by now. 🙂

  7. // January 18, 2016 at 12:04 am // Reply

    Great article, but I am still missing the connection as to why Paul Siple is responsible for the Wind Chil.
    From the article I know that he is an Eagle Scout and a member of the OA and went to the Antartica. What did he do there that created tne term “wind chill”? As a Boy Scout, as well as a BA in History, how did the term happen? There is no story to explain the term.

    • He developed wind chill later in life. Read his Wikipedia article. He was a researcher his whole life. Wrote 4 books.

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