There's cold, and there's Minnesota cold.
The Twin Cities area is about to get the kind of freeze-your-face-off Arctic temperatures that give Midwesterners their reputation for hardiness.
The temperature is expected to start dropping Saturday afternoon; Monday could be the first day in four years with a high temperature of less than zero. Sunday and Monday nights could see lows of about 8 below zero, and with west-northwest winds of up to 11 mph, well, let's just say "freeze-your-face-off" might not be an exaggeration.
The combination of wind and cold could equal a wind chill of about 27 below zero, and at that temperature, according to the National Weather Service, exposed skin is subject to frostbite in less than 30 minutes.
By the middle of next week, temperatures should be back to normal for this time of year, with a high in the upper 20s.
Severe cold spells used to be a regular feature of winters in the Twin Cities region, of course. But they've become rare in recent years; the last day with a high temperature below zero took place Jan. 15, 2009. The area has never recorded such a long spell without a subzero high in 141 years of recordkeeping.
The winter of 2011-12, a notoriously mild one in the Twin Cities, had only one subzero low all winter.
So, as we prepare for a return to more normal extremes (if that's not a contradiction in terms), here are a few reminders from the Federal Emergency Management Agency about dealing with severe cold:
- Avoid travel if possible.
- If travel is necessary, keep a kit of disaster supplies kit in your vehicle. Those supplies should include:
- a shovel
- windshield scraper and small broom
- battery powered radio
- extra batteries
- snack food
- extra hats, socks and mittens
- first aid kit with pocket knife
- necessary medications
- tow chain or rope
- road salt and sand
- booster cables
- emergency flares
- fluorescent distress flag
- Bring pets/companion animals inside. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.
- Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS). Be alert to changing weather conditions.