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Bitter cold closes schools, but brief warm-up on the way

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Minnesotans woke up to more dangerous cold and another round of school closings Thursday.

It was well below zero statewide, with the warmest pre-dawn temperature in Winona at 6 below zero, and wind chill readings across Minnesota at 25-40 below zero.

It likely will be subzero across the entire state all day Thursday before a brief warm-up on Friday, forecasters say. Some of the coldest spots around Minnesota early Thursday: International Falls at minus 27, Thief River Falls at minus 24 and Bemidji at minus 23. It will be a cold start for the annual St. Paul Winter Carnival, scheduled to kick off with a parade Thursday night.

Friday will bring a stark temperature difference, with temperatures in the 30s across most of the state, even in northern Minnesota. The mercury could climb to near 40 in the southern part of the state, KARE 11 reports. A high of 32 is expected Friday in the metro.

Snow is also in the forecast for Friday, from just a trace in the south to near 2 inches in the north, KARE reports.

Don't get too comfortable Friday. Bitter cold will return by Sunday for much of the state, forecasters say. In fact, MPR's Paul Huttner says there are no foreseeable pattern shifts away from bitter cold. "In the short term, get ready for more Alberta Clippers and 'ground blizzards,'" he says.

Minnesota is on track to record its coldest January in 33 years, University of Minnesota climatologist Mark Seeley told the Star Tribune.

Meanwhile for Thursday, dozens of school districts across the state canceled classes, including the three largest: the Anoka-Hennepin School District, Minneapolis and St. Paul.

"The decision to close schools for students and staff is based on the official announcement of the U.S. Weather Service, which states, 'Exposed skin may freeze in as little as five to 10 minutes,'" Anoka-Hennepin said.

KARE 11 has a list of other school closures.

To close or not to close is a tricky question for school officials. In St. Paul, Superintendent Valeria Silva initially announced schools would be open.

But at about 8:30 p.m. the district changed its mind and announced that classes are cancelled.

Minneapolis' decision came just a little earlier.

A few schools statewide cancelled classes Wednesday, too. According to the West Central Tribune, many schools in the region either canceled classes or let out early Wednesday as much of the region dealt with a ground blizzard that reduced visibility on the highways to near zero.

What does zero visibility look like? The Minnesota Department of Transportation posted a short video to Facebook so you can see (or rather, not see) what they're talking about. Watch out for that truck in the ditch.

Post by Minnesota Department of Transportation.

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