Archived Story

Severe cold blankets Minnesota

Published 12:36pm Tuesday, January 28, 2014

By Albert Lea Tribune and Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — Another day of severe cold is keeping students across Minnesota at home or other warm indoor places — many for a second consecutive day.

The National Weather Service has issued a wind chill warning as extreme cold and brisk winds pushed subzero temperatures to the 35 to 50 below range.

Parents with school-aged children are making alternative arrangements as schools across the state remained closed. When school is canceled in Minneapolis and surrounding districts, the YWCA allows students enrolled in before- and after-school programs to stay all day.

Some Minnesota school districts are opening their fee-based programs so children have a place to go during the day today. The city of Minneapolis is opening all 47 recreation centers at noon, three hours early.

In the Albert Lea area, all schools began two hours late today. A wind chill warning was in effect throughout most of Minnesota. In Freeborn County, a wind chill of 32 below zero was reported five miles southeast of Twin Lakes at 5:25 a.m. today. That weather spotter noted an air temperature of 18 below at 11:30 p.m. Monday.

The Albert Lea Municipal Airport reported a wind chill as low at 29 below at 4:08 a.m., and an air temperature of 17 below at 1:49 a.m. today. Glenville reported 17 below at 1:15 a.m. today.

A wind chill of 30 below was reported two miles northwest of Blue Earth at 3:55 a.m. today, and that weather spotted marked 15 below at 3:50 a.m. today. A wind chill of 33 below was reported five miles northeast of Ellendale at 11:50 p.m. Monday. The weather spotter marked 15 below at 12:35 a.m. today.

Across the South, residents stocked up on fuel and groceries, schools and offices closed, and road crews were at the ready as a storm moved in today from the central U.S., threatening to bring snow, ice and subzero temperatures to a region more accustomed to air conditioners and sunscreen than parkas and shovels.

Even with the timing and severity of the blast of freezing precipitation uncertain, officials from parts of Texas to southeastern Virginia warned motorists to stay off the roads and remain inside.

Popular warm-weather tourist destinations including Charleston, S.C.; Savannah, Ga.; Pensacola, Fla.; Virginia Beach, Va.; and New Orleans were expecting ice and snow over the next two days — rare occurrences in places that seldom even see prolonged sub-freezing temperatures.

At an Ace Hardware store in the north Georgia town of Cumming, snow shovels were in short supply, but manager Tom Maron said feed scoops — often used in barns — could be used if necessary. Workers expected brisk business, with patrons buying insulation, faucet covers, portable heaters and other cold-weather gear.

“We’re fixing to put the ice melt out, and we’ve got plenty of sand here to mix in,” Maron said shortly before dawn today.

Much of Georgia was placed under a winter storm watch for Tuesday and Wednesday, with some areas forecast to see as much as 3 inches of snow.

But Jason Deese with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City said the snow totals would “matter very little in this situation because of the ice potential.”

“Some parts of the state may end up seeing the greatest impact just because they get more ice than snow,” he said.

In Alabama, snow began falling before dawn Tuesday in the extreme northwest portion of the state.

In Montgomery, Bradley Thrift sat in a hotel parking lot letting his truck warm up before heading out with a crew to work on sewers.

“We’ve got a job to do. We’ll just be out in it,” said Thrift, wrapped up in a thick coat.

He said he wasn’t concerned about the prospect of slippery roads.

“We’ll be safe. When the boss man says that’s it, it’s too slippery, we’ll just come back here and wait,” he said.

In the Hampton Roads area of Virginia — which forecasters said could see a foot of snow — store shelves started emptying of staples such as bread by Monday night. Schools and businesses planned to close early, with the storm expected to further clog an already-busy afternoon commute.

In coastal Charleston, it was a balmy 62 degrees Monday. But the approaching weather led the College of Charleston to cancel classes Tuesday. There was a forecast of rain, and sleet in the late afternoon, with the first snow expected Wednesday morning.

Delta Air Lines officials said 1,850 flights have been canceled ahead of the storm. The airline is offering travelers the opportunity to make one-time changes to tickets without a fee if they’re traveling through Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, the Carolinas and Texas.