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Deep freeze grips Upper Midwest; more bitter cold to come

Forecasters say the frigid weather is expected to linger into next week, with even colder temperatures midweek.

Posted: Jan 24, 2019 4:34 PM
Updated: Jan 25, 2019 11:59 AM

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — An arctic wave has wrapped parts of the Midwest in numbing cold, sending temperatures plunging and prompting officials to close schools in several states on Friday, but forecasters say the worst may be yet to come.

Cold weather advisories were in effect from North Dakota to Ohio, with dangerously cold wind chills that could dip to as low as 45 below zero (negative 42 Celsius) in northern Wisconsin and Minnesota and to 35 below (negative 37 Celsius) in parts of northern Illinois and Iowa.

The bitter cold caused administrators in Wisconsin's largest school district to cancel classes, meaning nearly 78,000 students in Milwaukee Public Schools were told to stay home Friday. High temperatures in the area were expected to reach just 2 degrees (negative 16.7 Celsius) with a wind chill of minus 23 (negative 20.5 Celsius).

The wind chill, which describes the effect of wind and cold temperatures on exposed skin, is of more concern because frostbite can occur within minutes. Schools also closed because of the cold in western Michigan, northern Illinois, eastern Iowa and other parts of Wisconsin.

Ice fishing guide Bryan Lang acknowledged that extreme cold was part of his job in northern North Dakota, but he said he felt lucky to have taken Friday off work: the morning temperature was negative 21 degrees (negative 29 Celsius) with a wind chill of minus 42 (negative 41 Celsius).

"I'm glad to be in the house drinking coffee," he laughed.

The deep freeze caused organizers of the Winter Carnival in Minnesota to cancel several events, including Thursday night's parade through downtown St. Paul. In South Dakota, the city of Sioux Falls has closed its six outdoor skating rinks because of the cold weather.

Even harsher weather is expected next week. Bitter cold as bad — if not worse — than the 2014 polar vortex outbreak is expected, as frigid air escapes the Arctic in two icy excursions into Canada and the continental U.S., according to Ryan Maue, a meteorologist for weathermodels.com.

The first bout of cold air will strike northern Michigan and bring extreme cold to Ontario, while the second will spin south over the Midwest and through the Great Lakes, Maue said.

"It's going to be some insult after injury," Maue said. "Any hope in sight for a warm-up? No."

Some forecasters are calling the frigid invasions of cold air "Barney" because computer forecast models show them as chubby purple blobs, Maue said.

The National Weather Service notes that "potentially historic cold" is possible in northern Illinois starting Tuesday, following several inches of snow, with daytime temperatures below zero and wind chills frequently falling below negative 30 (negative 34.4 Celsius).

In northern Michigan, the U.S. Coast Guard warned residents of islands in the river connecting Lake Superior and Lake Huron that they could be cut off from ferry service during next week's deep freeze. The guard urged residents to stock up on supplies including food and heating fuel. Ice-breaking operations were working to keep ferry routes open.

In Minnesota, Kenny Blumenfeld, a senior climatologist with the Department of Natural Resources' State Climatology Office, said winter cold snaps on average are an annual occurrence in Minnesota, but extreme cold happens once every three to five years.

"It's Minnesota. We're supposed to go below zero and spend a lot of time not coming above zero. It's part of our winter," Blumenfeld said.

The University of Maine's Climate Reanalyzer notes that the temporary icy cold doesn't disprove global warming, despite what some non-scientists may claim. On Friday, the globe as a whole was 1.08 degrees (0.6 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 1979 to 2000 average.

"In a warming world you're still going to have unusually hot and unusually cold events happening in a particular part of the world," Berkeley Earth climate scientist Zeke Hausfather said. "Weather is not going away."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 55947

Reported Deaths: 1654
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin17789819
Ramsey6861261
Dakota3942102
Anoka3327112
Stearns281720
Washington188643
Nobles17456
Olmsted162023
Scott136214
Mower10782
Rice9898
Blue Earth8485
Wright8015
Carver7692
Clay74340
Kandiyohi6701
Sherburne6387
St. Louis42719
Todd4182
Lyon4153
Freeborn3541
Steele3271
Nicollet30713
Benton3043
Watonwan2980
Winona24516
Crow Wing20613
Martin2035
Le Sueur1991
Beltrami1910
Chisago1761
Goodhue1758
Otter Tail1753
Cottonwood1710
Pipestone1439
Becker1421
McLeod1350
Unassigned13540
Douglas1290
Itasca12912
Polk1293
Waseca1280
Pine1260
Carlton1240
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Murray1221
Isanti1080
Chippewa971
Brown832
Meeker832
Morrison831
Faribault820
Sibley782
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Rock730
Jackson700
Pennington701
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Fillmore610
Cass582
Renville585
Lincoln540
Swift521
Grant491
Yellow Medicine490
Roseau450
Houston400
Pope390
Norman340
Redwood300
Aitkin280
Hubbard280
Kanabec281
Marshall280
Wilkin283
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Wadena230
Big Stone220
Red Lake190
Lake170
Stevens150
Clearwater140
Traverse100
Lac qui Parle60
Kittson40
Cook20
Lake of the Woods10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 45592

Reported Deaths: 877
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk9709202
Woodbury364250
Black Hawk299762
Linn208987
Johnson191815
Dallas178735
Buena Vista178412
Scott159012
Dubuque152729
Marshall138324
Pottawattamie121223
Story111013
Wapello84531
Muscatine82448
Crawford7153
Webster7125
Sioux5932
Cerro Gordo58117
Tama53729
Warren5261
Jasper45424
Plymouth4438
Wright4411
Louisa37814
Dickinson3754
Clinton3123
Washington28710
Hamilton2391
Boone2282
Franklin2134
Bremer1877
Clarke1853
Carroll1811
Emmet1791
Clay1711
Hardin1660
Shelby1591
Marion1520
Allamakee1494
Poweshiek1468
Benton1421
Des Moines1392
Jackson1391
Mahaska13617
Guthrie1265
Floyd1242
Jones1231
Cedar1201
Hancock1162
Butler1132
Pocahontas1131
Henry1123
Buchanan1101
Lyon1000
Madison1002
Cherokee971
Clayton973
Harrison960
Taylor930
Lee923
Delaware901
Monona900
Humboldt891
Iowa881
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Calhoun812
Mills810
Sac810
Fayette790
Jefferson780
Palo Alto780
Kossuth770
Osceola770
Mitchell760
Page740
Winnebago730
Grundy721
Union701
Monroe667
Worth610
Chickasaw500
Davis491
Howard480
Cass471
Appanoose433
Lucas434
Montgomery433
Greene380
Fremont360
Van Buren311
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Ida290
Audubon281
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