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.

Cases: 589527

Reported Deaths: 7333
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1221311726
Ramsey51028871
Dakota45667448
Anoka41421437
Washington26724281
Stearns22139221
St. Louis17682302
Scott17201124
Wright15943139
Olmsted1319098
Sherburne1160286
Carver1044945
Clay812792
Rice8014106
Blue Earth746141
Crow Wing660988
Kandiyohi652083
Chisago592551
Otter Tail572978
Benton565997
Goodhue475772
Douglas464674
Mower464032
Winona452950
Itasca432254
McLeod421658
Isanti417364
Morrison417360
Nobles407248
Beltrami392458
Steele384915
Polk382468
Becker378850
Lyon359850
Carlton344153
Freeborn341129
Pine326722
Nicollet323843
Brown304640
Mille Lacs302452
Le Sueur289222
Todd280632
Cass269628
Meeker254340
Waseca236522
Martin229831
Roseau207919
Wabasha20483
Hubbard187141
Dodge18373
Renville178943
Redwood172936
Houston171515
Cottonwood164321
Fillmore155510
Wadena155122
Pennington153619
Chippewa151838
Faribault151319
Kanabec143424
Sibley142510
Aitkin134236
Watonwan13219
Rock128019
Jackson121711
Pipestone115126
Yellow Medicine113820
Pope10956
Murray10609
Swift104918
Stevens90211
Marshall88017
Clearwater86416
Koochiching81715
Lake80819
Wilkin80712
Lac qui Parle75022
Big Stone5984
Lincoln5773
Grant5678
Mahnomen5459
Norman5399
Unassigned48793
Kittson48522
Red Lake3957
Traverse3685
Lake of the Woods3223
Cook1610

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 366197

Reported Deaths: 5929
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57488623
Linn20814334
Scott19960240
Black Hawk15785308
Woodbury15121228
Johnson1445783
Dubuque13355209
Dallas1116198
Pottawattamie11091168
Story1059248
Warren575888
Clinton554393
Cerro Gordo538089
Sioux513874
Webster512193
Marshall482175
Muscatine477499
Des Moines454366
Wapello4297122
Buena Vista424540
Jasper418672
Plymouth400680
Lee375055
Marion361775
Jones298157
Henry291137
Carroll285452
Bremer283960
Crawford265840
Boone263934
Benton256055
Washington253950
Dickinson247843
Mahaska229951
Jackson221242
Clay215325
Kossuth215264
Delaware209240
Tama209271
Winneshiek196934
Page192622
Buchanan190731
Cedar189423
Hardin184943
Fayette184841
Wright184336
Hamilton179449
Harrison179373
Clayton169256
Butler164634
Mills161722
Madison161519
Floyd160342
Cherokee158738
Lyon157741
Poweshiek154733
Allamakee151151
Iowa148324
Hancock147634
Winnebago141731
Calhoun138113
Cass137954
Grundy136233
Emmet134040
Jefferson132435
Shelby130737
Sac130119
Union128133
Appanoose128049
Louisa127849
Mitchell126042
Chickasaw123915
Guthrie121030
Franklin119321
Humboldt118826
Palo Alto112523
Howard104522
Montgomery103338
Clarke99924
Unassigned9770
Keokuk95631
Monroe95129
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Adair86432
Pocahontas85322
Davis82824
Monona82830
Osceola78516
Greene77610
Lucas77123
Worth7438
Taylor65712
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