Weather Forecast


Weather Talk: Familiar Fahrenheit temperature scale creates bias

Most of the world converted to Celsius decades ago, but the people of the United States stubbornly refused to change. Now, we Americans are on a different scale for temperature than most people of the world.

Both the Fahrenheit and Celsius temperature scales do a fine job of telling us if the weather is warmer or colder, but the one great advantage of the Celsius scale is that it unambiguously uses 0 degrees as the freezing point and 100 degrees as the boiling point of water at sea level.

The Fahrenheit scale inadvertently makes air temperatures lower than 0 degrees and higher than 100 degrees seem colder and hotter than they actually are by means of an extra digit or a negative sign. A temperature of 101 degrees is not significantly hotter than 99 degrees. Likewise, a temperature of minus 1 is merely two degrees colder than 1 degree.

John Wheeler

John was born in Baton Rouge, LA, and grew up near Birmingham, Alabama. As a teenager, his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and later to a small town in northeast Iowa. John traces his early interest in weather to the difference in climate between Alabama and Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in meteorology. Like any meteorologist, John is intrigued by extremes of weather, especially arctic air outbreaks and winter storms.  John has been known to say he prefers his summers to be hot but in winter, he prefers the cold.  When away from work, John enjoys long-distance running and reading.  John has been a meteorologist at WDAY since May of 1985.

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