March will come roaring in, but lamb-like weather just a couple weeks off

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41 below?!?

Yes, that was the air temperature a Transportation Department sensor recorded in northern St. Louis County Thursday morning, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

Even in the nation's ice box this end-of-February cold blast is not just your garden variety chill. The National Weather Service reports International Falls set a record for the date when the temperature plunged to 36 below. It's just the latest punch from old man winter in a season when the average temperature in the Falls has been 2.5 degrees below zero – the second-coldest on record the Weather Service says.

In Duluth the new record for most days below zero in a single winter now stands at 63 days. And if you're a native of the Twin Cities who's younger than 35, this is the coldest winter of your life.

More bitter weather is on tap through the weekend. Northern and central Minnesota are under a wind chill advisory through 9 a.m. Friday, with low temperatures around 20 below in the Northland and wind chills reaching 35 below.

In the Twin Cities forecasters expect highs around 10 degrees on Friday and around 0 on Saturday and Sunday.

There's also some snow in the forecast for southern Minnesota Friday and Saturday. MPR says it could amount to a couple of inches in the southeast and western Wisconsin may see four inches.

We know this weather's tough on people but it's not so great for machines and equipment, either. The Perham Focus reports crews from Otter Tail Power were responding to arcing and sparks after a transmission line failed in that city.

As MPR reports, rural water systems are struggling with frozen pipes. The chief executive of the state's largest rural system, Lincoln Pipestone Rural Water, tells the network even old timers say they've never seen a winter with so many freeze-ups.

In urban areas government agencies are asking residents to help shovel snow. The Metropolitan Council put out a call for people to help its Metro Mobility service provide transportation to those with disabilities by making sure sidewalks, steps, curb cuts, and driveways are clear.

The Pioneer Press reports St. Paul's fire department is also appealing for help shoveling out hydrants.

And at a hearing before the state legislature an executive with the railroad company BNSF told lawmakers it's the cold weather, not freight train traffic, that's responsible for delays on the North Star commuter line. The Star Tribune says an assistant vice-president with the railroad testified that switches lock up when it's this cold and the crews that work on the tracks can only stay outside for short bursts of time.

But trains pass through tunnels, don't they? And what's at the end of those tunnels?

Well, if you look hard enough into the long-range forecast you can see some light a couple of weeks away.

AccuWeather has forecast the highs for every day March. They don't expect the Twin Cities temperature to reach double figures until Tuesday the 4th. But by March 9 they're calling for a high around 45 and their crystal ball shows 50 degrees on the 14th.

That old saw about March coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb looks a little suspect, though. AccuWeather's outlook shows highs peaking in the middle of the month and dropping back into the 40s and 30s during the last couple of weeks.

But, hey, that's 40 above. Not 41 below.

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