Minnesotans hunker down as brutal cold sweeps state

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Most Minnesota schools were closed Monday due to extreme cold, many for the fourth time this month, and there was no immediate relief in sight – Tuesday will be even colder in most places.

School-closing listings showed about 500 alerts across the state. Some university campuses were closed, too.

Monday morning's temperatures in Minnesota ranged from 15 to 25 degrees below zero, with wind chill readings as low as 50 below. Wind chill warnings were in effect until noon Tuesday.

Before dawn Monday, it was minus 15 degrees in the Twin Cities and Rochester; minus 23 in International Falls; minus 24 in Ely. Wind chills: minus 37 in the Twin Cities; minus 50 in Duluth. Check this out from a Twitter user in Fairmont – this is not the way to start a Monday morning.

Tuesday's wake-up forecast will be about 5 degrees colder than Monday's, WCCO reports. It could be minus 23 degrees early Tuesday in the Twin Cities, which would tie the coldest temperature of the winter, WCCO says.

Forecasters say Wednesday should bring some relief from the cold, with highs reaching the mid-20s in the Twin Cities.

But meteorologist Paul Douglas writes that this month may go down as Minnesota's coldest January in 20 years.

Meanwhile, a weekend pipeline explosion in southern Manitoba has Xcel Energy urging customers to turn down thermostats to conserve natural gas. Three lines that serve 100,000 customers in northern Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin were knocked out of commission by the explosion. Xcel asked customers in the affected area to drop their thermostats to 60 degrees and avoid using gas-powered appliances. Cities in the affected area include Fargo-Moorhead, Grand Forks, and Brainerd, Xcel says.

On Sunday, winds howling up to 60 miles per hour whipped up fresh snow, closing highways in western and southern Minnesota and causing hundreds of school closings amid a new round of bone-chilling cold. Gusts hit 62 mph in Jackson, 60 mph in Rochester and 47 mph at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

WCCO has video of some of the blowing snow near Hutchinson. Check out video posted to YouTube (below) of blizzard conditions on Interstate 94 near Moorhead on Sunday.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation and the State Patrol closed highways including Interstate 94 between Moorhead and Alexandria. Portions of U.S. Highways 10 and 210 were also closed Sunday, WCCO reports. The Pioneer Press reported that MnDot was advising no unnecessary travel across the state.

By Sunday evening, snow plows were coming off the roads because of hazardous conditions and road closings included Interstate 90 from Albert Lea west into South Dakota, the Rochester Post Bulletin reports.

Tow trucks were still operating, however, and were overwhelmed with calls from motorists stranded in ditches, according to KAAL.

MnDot's latest information on road conditions is available here. Be forewarned, though, that it's chock full of dangerous or closed roads.

National Weather Service forecast for the Twin Cities:

KMSP-TV

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