Cold grips Albert Lea

Published 8:47 pm Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Wind chills between 45 and 65 below zero are forecasted


Bitter cold wind chills have locked in over Albert Lea and the Upper Midwest, leading to schools, businesses and other organizations closing as the area waits out the return of warmer weather.

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Freeborn County remains under a wind chill warning through 9 a.m. Thursday as wind chills were expected to fall to between 45 below and 65 below zero from Tuesday night on. Winds could gust as high as 35 mph.

The Albert Lea Salvation Army will be open for people in need of shelter from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. 

The U.S. Postal Service announced it would suspend mail delivery in Minnesota, western Wisconsin, Iowa and western Illinois on Wednesday, and retail operations at local offices would be available but limited, according to a news release.

The Albert Lea Tribune’s Wednesday and Thursday editions were expected to be delivered Thursday, as the newspaper is delivered via letter carriers with the U.S. Postal Service.

Freeborn County administration announced county facilities  would operate under emergency protocol due to the extreme cold.

Continuing through 10 a.m. Thursday, county offices will operate minimal services with limited staff.

The Freeborn County Highway Department will operate equipment during daylight hours only with the exception of emergency response.

“Freeborn County commissioners and administration encourage all citizens to remain home and off the roads during the adverse weather,” a news release states.

Emergency personnel and law enforcement will be on duty without reduction in staffing.

According to the National Weather Service, wind chills could be life-threatening for people spending any prolonged period outdoors without proper clothing.

The Weather Agency stated frostbite could occur on exposed skin in as little as five minutes.

Record low temperatures were possible Wednesday morning and Thursday morning. The record for Wednesday in the Twin Cities is 30 below zero and for Thursday is 27 below zero.


Tips for staying safe from frostbite and hypothermia

Dress properly if you have to go outdoors. Be sure to wear a scarf or knit mask that covers your face and mouth, a hat, mittens or gloves, a water-resistant coat, water-resistant boots and several layers of loose-fitting clothing. Make sure your nose, ears, toes, cheeks, chin and fingers are covered by warm, dry clothing.

• People at risk include older adults without proper food, clothing or heating; people who stay outdoors for long periods; people who drink alcohol in excess or use illicit drugs; and babies sleeping in cold rooms.

• The first symptom of frostbite is often redness or pain in any skin area. Other signs include a white or grayish-yellow skin area, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy and numbness.

• Hypothermia often occurs at cold temperatures but can occur at cool temperatures if a person is wet from rain, sweat or cold water and becomes chilled. Signs and symptoms in adults are shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness. Signs and symptoms in infants include bright red and cold skin and low energy.

• Do not walk on feet or toes with frostbite. Don’t place on a heat source for warming or rub areas with frostbite.

— Information from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.