Wet cold? Dry cold? Expert says there's no such thing

Dry cold, wet cold, it's all the same says one prominent climatologist with Environment Canada.

Environment Canada's Dave Phillips says cold is cold no matter where you are in Canada

Wind, not humidity, has more to do with how cold it feels. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Dry cold, wet cold,  it's all the same says one prominent climatologist with Environment Canada.

Dave Phillips has heard it before. In the dead of winter, a person from Edmonton visits Windsor, Ont., known for its summertime humidity, and complains about the "wet cold."

It simply isn't true, Phillips said.

"There's nothing to it. It's a myth," Phillips said. "I hear it so much on the Prairies; 'at least ours is a dry cold, not like that damp cold you have in Ontario. And our heat is dry.'

"I think they think their precipitation is dry."

Phillips said -15C in Windsor feels the same as -15C in Winnipeg.

"It's part of legend. It's part of a rallying cry. They defend their brutal winters out there," Phillips said of Western Canadians. "Now, we'd probably call in the army in Ontario. And they would be going in from the patio in Winnipeg."

In January 1999, Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman called in the Canadian army to help remove snow from city streets.

When it comes to temperature, if all other weather elements are equal, cold is cold in the east or west, Phillips said. It's also dry — period.

"At these very low temperatures, there is virtually no humidity in the air. If there was humidity, you'd be in an ice fog. All that moisture would condense in the air and you'd be in an ice fog," Phillips explained. "You wouldn't be able to see the hood ornament of your car.

"At those very low temperatures, it's almost a desert dryness."

The biggest factor in "feeling" colder is the wind.

"It could be that you're under high pressure in Manitoba and it's very calm. In Windsor, you could have a bitter, stronger wind coming off the water," Phillips said.

The low overnight low in Windsor -17C and Wednesday's high is expected to be -7C

Windsor had a wind chill temperature of -29C Tuesday. Skin will freeze in 20 minutes under those conditions, Phillips said.

The wind chill on Wednesday is predicted to be -23C.

"It’s been two years in the making, but it’s going to be short lived," Phillips said of the cold snap. "By the end of the month, we’ll be into another January thaw."