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Hump day: Minnesota pulling out of the 'polar vortex'

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It's happening gradually, but nature is losing its icy grip on Minnesota.

Already by Tuesday, the mercury tiptoed above zero in parts of the state. For the Twin Cities, that broke a 62-hour stretch at or below zero, the Pioneer Press reports.

The thaw won't be sudden. In Fargo-Moorhead Wednesday's high will still only be about 8 below, the Forum notes. But a warmup begins in earnest on Thursday and by the weekend forecasters expect highs in the 30s.

It could hit 36 in the Twin Cities by Sunday, the National Weather Service says. Highs Sunday could reach 33 in Duluth; 29 in Hallock; 37 in Worthington; and 37 in Winona.

Some schools reopened on Tuesday, but the frigid temperatures were still causing pain. Nearly invisible black ice contributed to plenty of highway accidents, including a Little Canada crash in which a driver survived a plunge from an overpass several stories high.

Authorities say a woman found dead outside her Lakeville home Tuesday showed evidence of hypothermia but the cause of her death was not immediately clear, WCCO reports.

Wednesday's dawn, though, will bring us closer not only to the end of our current cold snap but also to the end of winter. Minnesota Public Radio points out that next week brings the mid-point of winter (as measured from December through February). And meteorologist Paul Huttner says long-range weather patterns suggest the season's second half will be milder.

How could it not be, did you ask?

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