FRONT-cold-story-WEB2.jpg

Across the region people stayed inside over the weekend to avoid what the National Weather Service called “life-threatening windchill temperatures.”

On Tuesday morning, it was still below zero and the weekend forecast is much of the same. It is a stark difference to the mild winter we’ve had so far.

The cold streak lasted from Friday night into Tuesday morning.

“This cold streak is a stark contrast from our very mild winter so far, after one of the warmest Januarys on record (12th warmest on record for Duluth, 2nd warmest for International Falls). However, so far it has not been anything record-breaking... though that doesn’t mean the cold is any less dangerous or enjoyable on these frigid days,” said Joe Moore, Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Duluth.

Grantsburg records go back to 1950, they should the record number of days at or below zero degrees is 7 days back in 1994

The longest recorded period with temperatures below zero in the Twin Cities was 186 hours from Dec. 31, 1911 to Jan. 8, 1912 in the Twin Cities. In Duluth, it was 11 days in 1912. The next longest streak for Duluth was seven days back in 1994.

Moore said this current streak in Duluth could last another eight or nine days if the cold stays.

“Regardless if we beat the record or not, though, it certainly paints the picture that this is an exceptionally long period of very cold temperatures, even if it doesn’t break any specific records,” Moore said.

Moore stated after this weekend we should spend the second half of February with just normal cold, but there’s a chance for another long cold streak thanks to arctic air in March.

“We are watching for another potential round of arctic air and subzero temperatures possible in early March,” Moore said. He added the Great Lakes are expected to be below normal from Feb. 20 to March 5.

ReadyWisconsin offers safety tips for dangerous cold temperatures.

• Limit your time outdoors. If you must be outside, dress for the weather. Wear loose-fitting layers, a hat, gloves, and snow boots. Make sure you have a scarf or some other way to cover your face.

• Know the signs of hypothermia, which include excessive shivering, exhaustion, confusion, and slurred speech. If you, or anyone around you, begins to show symptoms, call 911 immediately.

• Know the signs of frostbite, which include a white or grayish-yellow skin area, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy, and numbness. If you detect symptoms, get to a warm area. Do not try to rub them, as it can cause more damage.

• Check the supplies in your home and vehicle emergency kits. If food items or batteries have expired or run low, replace them.

• Test the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors around your home. If you can’t remember the last time you changed the batteries, go ahead and replace them.

• Check your furnace to make sure it is working properly. If you rely on heating oil or propane, make sure you have enough to last through the current period of cold temperatures and schedule a delivery before you start to run low.

• Do not attempt to use gasoline or propane heaters or a grill to heat your home or garage. Those devices produce carbon monoxide, which can be deadly in enclosed areas.

• Prepare your vehicle for the possible effects of the cold weather. Keep the gas tank at least half-full. Pack an emergency kit with items such as food, water, extra blankets and warm clothing, booster cables, and a cell phone charger.

• Make sure water pipes in unheated areas are properly insulated. If you have faucets served by exposed pipes, let water drip from them or run at a slow trickle to prevent freezing. Open kitchen and bathroom cabinets to allow heat to get to the pipes.

• If you have pets, limit their time outdoors. Dogs and cats can get frost-bitten ears, nose and feet if left outside during bitter cold weather. For livestock, make sure they have access to extra food and a water source that will not freeze. Outdoor animals need access to a dry place to seek shelter. Help provide a windbreak for larger animals and an enclosed space for smaller animals to help them retain their body heat.