Will extreme cold prompt Governor Tim Walz to close schools statewide?

Schools also have their own cold day criteria if he doesn't.
Author:
Publish date:

It doesn't happen often, but when temperatures and weather go to the extremes we're about to see, the governor of Minnesota can step in and shut down schools across the entire state. 

Former Gov. Arne Carlson did it in 1994, 1996 and 1997, all due to extremely cold temperatures and wind chills, much like those forecast to put the entire state in a deep freeze Tuesday-Thursday this week. 

More recently, former Gov. Mark Dayton closed schools statewide on Jan. 6, 2014.

What were the temperatures in the Twin Cities on those four historic days? 

Jan. 18, 1994: According to the Minnesota State Climatology Office, it was 26 below zero in the Twin Cities that morning with a wind chill of -48. 

Feb. 2, 1996: It was the coldest day in Twin Cities history with a record low of -34 and the daytime high only reached 17 below zero. It was Friday, and interestingly, temps were nearly as cold (-12 high, -27 low) the day before but Gov. Carlson didn't call off school. 

The wind chill dipped to -48 in the Twin Cities. 

The air temperature fell to -60 in Tower, Minnesota, which still stands as the all-time state record. 

Jan. 16, 1997: The high in the Twin Cities was actually 2 degrees but with a morning low of negative 8 and gusty winds, the wind chill dropped to -32, according to the state climate office. 

Jan. 6, 2014: The high was negative 12 in the Twin Cities with a low of 23 below zero. The climate office notes that the wind chill dipped to -48 in the metro area that morning, and it was even worse further north with wind chill values of -50 to -63. 

Wind chill expected to reach -50 this week

It's going to be extremely cold Tuesday-Thursday this week and the National Weather Service is forecasting wind chills of 35 to 50 below zero in the Twins – even colder in greater Minnesota – from about 9 a.m. Tuesday all the way to 9 a.m. Thursday, with the most frigid conditions coming Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. 

Screen Shot 2019-01-27 at 7.18.08 AM

So, will Gov. Walz join Carlson and Dayton and call off school for the entire state? He's at least thinking about his options.

“I really trust local officials and superintendents and folks to make these decisions," Walz said when speaking with media Friday, via the Brainerd Dispatch. "We’ll certainly see when it’s the proper role. We always make these decisions based on the safety of our children, the safety of people on the roads but also understanding what are the implications of when you do that ... We'll explore it."

Sign up for our BREAKING WEATHER newsletters

School districts have varying cold-weather criteria

School districts tend to have their own severe winter weather criteria for when to close schools. Here are a handful, but if you're curious about your district then you should be able to find it on their website. 

Minneapolis Public Schools: "MPS will likely cancel classes if the wind chill forecast for 6:30 a.m. the following day is -35° or colder, with winds of at least 5 to 10 miles per hour".

St. Paul: School will be canceled if the forecast for 6 a.m. has an air temp below -25 or a wind chill of -35. 

Anoka-Hennepin: "If the National Weather Service issues a "wind chill warning" stating that exposed skin can become frostbitten in less than 15 minutes, then the district will likely make a decision to close."

Osseo Area Schools: "If the National Weather Service predicts the wind chill to remain at or drop below -35ºF (below zero), school may be cancelled."

Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan District 196: Cold weather cancellations are made by 6:30 p.m. the night before and are based on the National Weather Service forecasting an air temp of at least 25 below zero or a wind chill of 35 below zero at 6 a.m. 

Next Up

1024px-Hudson,_Wisconsin_9

St. Croix County GOP chair resigns after incendiary post on official website

John Kraft sparked controversy with his 'Prepare for War' post on the party website earlier this month.

ann kim

Ann Kim's new restaurant, Sooki & Mimi, to open in February

The James Beard Award winner is the brains behind Young Joni, Pizzeria Lola, and Hello Pizza.

Screen Shot 2021-01-19 at 1.32.19 PM

Firefighters rescue worker after trench fall in Rochester

The construction worker fell about 15 feet.

gray wolf

Grand Marais mayor's dog survives attack by wolves

He heard his 65-pound dog "screaming bloody murder" and then saw the wolves chasing her.

Screen Shot 2021-01-19 at 12.04.55 PM

Minnesota's COVID vaccine appointment site goes live

Huge demand was expected when the site went live at noon.

emily ford

Duluth woman is hiking 1,000-plus miles on the Ice Age Trail this winter

She could be the second person ever to finish a winter-thru hike of the Wisconsin trail.

coronavirus, covid-19, icu

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Tuesday, January 19

Two days in a row with fewer than 1,000 new cases.

Screen Shot 2021-01-19 at 10.52.12 AM

After fire destroyed their house, couple forced to euthanize beloved dog

The couple's daughter has launched a fundraiser for her parents.

Screen Shot 2021-01-19 at 10.16.14 AM

Investigation after teacher accused of lewd act during distance learning

No charges have been filed yet and the staff member has not been identified.

cook county schools

Investigation after assistant principal displays "joke" Gadsden flag during announcements

"My apologies to anybody who was offended by that part of the snake that was on that comic and it's been taken down."

Related

Will warmup threaten chances for a white Christmas?

Another cold start to the week but warmer days are ahead.

Snowfall totals will vary across MN; extremely cold late week

The highest totals look to be in places like Walker, Grand Rapids and Duluth.

Quick shot of snow to be followed by cold snap next week

A cold front is expected to push through around Monday.

Minnesota schools announce Thursday closures due to cold

Many schools have already been closed for three days this week.

Arctic cold arrives: Temps, wind chills to nosedive through Thursday

The coldest of the cold will be from Tuesday evening through Wednesday.

Tim Walz

Gov. Walz closes Minnesota schools for nearly 2 weeks

The news conference is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Sunday.