The big plunge


Bone-chilling, record-breaking cold is forecast for Monday, with even Twin Cities residents waking up to minus 25, or below, according to the MPR News Updraft blog.

Temperatures for the Upper Midwest are making national headlines. The Associated Press reports cold temperature records are likely to be broken, thanks to what one meteorologist calls a "polar vortex."

That means frigid air from the North Pole will be pulled through the U.S. by a counterclockwise rotation of cold, dense air.

"All the ingredients are there for a near-record or historic cold outbreak," said Ryan Maue with Weather Bell. "If you're under 40 (years old), you've not seen this stuff before."

The cold blast will sweep through parts of New England, where residents are still digging out from a storm that dumped two feet of snow in some places. Temperatures will be in the 20s early this week in Atlanta and other cities unaccustomed to cold weather.

Maue said the duration of the cold spells is more significant than the deep dive.

The Arctic blast will freeze over the Great Lakes and other bodies of water, meaning frigid temperatures will likely last the rest of winter, Maue said.

"It raises the chances for future cold," he said, adding it could include next month's Super Bowl in New Jersey. Strong northwest winds counteract any warming effect from the Gulf of Mexico.

Ken Simosko, a meteorologist from Bismarck, said it would take five minutes to get frostbite in minus 50 degree conditions.

"We usually don't call something 'life threatening,'" he told "But yes, we want people to know that this is very much a life-threatening event."

Temperatures at Lambeau Field for Sunday's NFL playoff game are expected to be below zero, with wind chills approaching minus 30, according to the National Weather Service.

Gov. Mark Dayton canceled school throughout Minnesota Monday; the first statewide cancellation in 17 years.

A Minnesota man is among 16 weather-related deaths nationwide, according to KTOE News. Police say 79-year-old William Harry Lee apparently fell in his New Ulm backyard and froze to death Thursday night.

In the Twin Cities, the Salvation Army is opening its Minneapolis Harbor Light shelter to all who need a place to sleep. Eight neighborhood locations will offer daytime shelter, and send vans to patrol for people staying outside. The Salvation Army is asking the public to drop off cold-weather clothing at any of its sites.

The Duluth News Tribune reports homeless shelters are redoubling outreach efforts. They are over capacity, but not turning anyone away.

Joel Kilgour, an outreach worker for Loaves and Fishes, says at least two homeless Duluth residents area suffering from frostbite that may require amputation.

Advocates for homeless people are asking the public to send them tips on where people are living outside, including in cars or campgrounds.

"We have a small team and Duluth is a big place," Kilgour said. "There are warm places to sleep."

The hotline number is (218) 461-8505.

The Associated Press reports Xcel Energy is asking 600 businesses to cut down on their use of natural gas during the cold snap. Those customers agreed to do so in exchange for lower rates year-round. Xcel has safety suggestions for weathering frigid temperatures on its website.

There are reports of burst pipes in Minneapolis.

KARE 11 suggests precautions to prepare for the cold including adding air to your tires, filling your gas tank and opening cabinets to make sure pipes stay warm.


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