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5 minutes to frostbite: Dangerous cold here through Tuesday

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The dangerously cold weather that Minnesotans have been hearing about has arrived. And it's not just passing through; it's sticking around for a couple of days.

The National Weather Service's wind chill warning says this is the coldest air mass to reach Minnesota since 1996 and describes it as historic and life-threatening cold. The warning continues through noon Tuesday.

As WCCO puts it, "The Winter Kraken" has been released.

The Weather Service's Twin Cities office says some records may fall, especially the mark for coldest high temperature. The mercury may not get much above 20 below on Monday, with lows of 25 to 35 below likely around the state. Wind chill readings are expected to reach 50 below, which the Weather Service says can freeze exposed skin in five minutes. (KSTP examines that term – "wind chill" – and why that factor is such an important one in calculating the danger cold presents.

Predictions that Monday could be the coldest day statewide since 1996 may indeed prove true, Paul Douglas writes in the Star Tribune.

Officials are warning people to stay indoors. The State Patrol is urging people to keep a survival kit in the car if they must venture out. If something goes awry on the road in this kind of cold, the situation will quickly go from bad to much worse, officials at the State Patrol warned Sunday night.

"With the extreme cold, there are going to be icy roads, and there's not much that can be done about them," said Lt. Eric Roeske, the Pioneer Press reported.

Here's a "Winter Survival in Your Car" document from state safety officials, with a list of things you should keep in your vehicle.

KSTP reports St. Paul and Brooklyn Park are among cities where fire departments and emergency responders have beefed up staffing and adjusted policies in response to the cold. Crews will respond with sirens and lights to any injury that occurs outdoors, to minimize the time a patient spends outside. Additionally, St. Paul's fire chief says ambulances will accompany engines on every fire call, to ensure that people have a place to warm up.

The cold is interfering with transportation. In the Duluth area, Jefferson Lines has cancelled a number of bus routes to cities including Minneapolis, Fargo, and Eau Claire, citing safety reasons. Find the latest on their service disruptions here.

The News Tribune reports the Duluth airport is also cancelling flights, particularly to Chicago, which is getting a snowstorm in addition to bitterly cold temperatures.

Indeed, if misery loves company there'll be lots of love across the nation this week. CNN reports that by Wednesday just about half the country will see below-zero temperatures, including some parts of the South.

One resident of Embarrass, Minnesota, tells the network he'd rather not see the town break its all-time record low of 64 below (set in 1996) – although he does have a Weather Service-provided thermometer that goes all the way down to -100.

The Associated Press has a collection of cold-weather tips to consider when it comes to staving off frostbite, exercising outdoors, and getting the most out of car batteries and space heaters.

All of Minnesota's schools will be closed on Monday. In addition, some of the state's biggest businesses have encouraged employees to consider working from home.

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