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Coldest air of the winter, 'life-threatening' wind chills encompass Minnesota

Nothing beats the gift of polar vortex to warm a loved one's heart.

There's no doubt there will be Minnesotans wearing T-shirts and shorts when temperatures blast into the 20s and maybe even the 30s later this week, but even the bravest of the Bold North would decline stepping outdoors in shorts on Sunday. 

Sunday morning welcomed the coldest air of what's become an extended stay for Old Man Winter, with wind chills across the entire state ranging from -30F to -55F. All of – literally every county – Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa are under wind chill warnings. 

The dangerously cold wind chills can cause frostbite within 10 minutes, the National Weather Service warns. 

The actual air temp in the the weather service station in Chanhassen Sunday morning dipped to -20F. It was -33F in Ely, where one day earlier the air temperature plunged to -50F. Duluth broke its record low for Valentine's Day as the temperature plunged to -26F. The previous record in Duluth was -24F, set in 1875, 1879, 1949 and 1970. 

"Bitterly cold air and life-threatening wind chills continue. Make sure to take care of your pets. Make sure they have a warm, dry place with plenty of food and water. If you let your pet outside, stay near the door and bring them in quickly. Protect their feet," the NWS Duluth said. 

The air temp Monday morning is expected to reach a low of -22F in the Twin Cities, which would be colder if not for the urban heat island effect. 

"Most locations (other than the urban heat island) could see actual air temperatures between -25 to -30 degrees," the forecast discussion from the Twin Cities office of the NWS says. 

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The good news is that a gradual warming trend will happen this week. Wind chills won't be quite as bitter – still dangerously low – Monday morning. Minnesota could bust out of subzero wind chill values by Wednesday. 

Meteorologist Tanner Verstegen says that "if MSP doesn't get above zero until Tuesday it will make the longest stretch in Feb since 1936" staying below zero. He adds: "Also, if we have 10 days in a row with a high below 10 that will be longest stretch since 1974." 

High temps in the 40s are possible by the last week of February, according to the weather service. 

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