Brrr-r-r-r-r ... it’s c-c-cold!
An arctic front settled over the region this week, bringing with it sub zero temperatures and dangerous wind chills.
By Wednesday, temperatures were forecast to hit minus 25 degrees with wind chills registering at minus 60 degrees.
With these conditions expected to last for days at a time, most schools across the state, including those in Rock County, called off classes for Tuesday and Wednesday.
In addition to school related activities, many other area events and activities were also canceled due to the dangerous cold.
Many businesses announced early closings in order to protect employees and encourage customers to stay home. Among them were Teal’s Market, Teal’s Gas and Pizza Ranch in Luverne. All three closed at 8 p.m.
Those who needed to be outdoors were warned to keep their skin covered, because even short exposures of five minutes or less could result in frostbite.
For livestock producers, the cold snap meant extra work blending fuel in tractors and vehicles, checking water, bedding animals and feeding extra calories that animals burn to stay warm.
“They need extra calories to stay warm,” said Dr. Erin deKoning with Rock Veterinary Clinic, Luverne. “The smaller animals you should bring inside, if possible.”
In addition to checking livestock and pets, she reminds people — especially rural residents — to check on their elderly neighbors.
The Polar Vortex, as its called, creates busy spells for plumbers and furnace specialists.
Mark Kurtz of Kurtz Plumbing and Heating, Luverne, said long cold spells can wear on equipment.
For example, LP regulators on outdoor fuel tanks can freeze up, cutting off fuel supplies to home heating systems, and outside vents on homes can plug up with ice and snow, causing a furnace to shut down.
Also, newer home thermostats are battery operated, and something as simple as a dead battery can turn a house cold.
“You can have a $10 or $20,000 furnace system shut down because of a dead battery,” Kurtz said.
Kurtz said he makes extra house calls this time of year, but there are several things homeowners can do on their own.
For example, make sure furnace filters are clean, complete simple furnace maintenance and keep vents clear.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Kurtz said. “A little maintenance goes a long way.”
A fresh snow over the weekend in Rock County caused some drifting and visibility issues on roadways, but that problem was worse in neighboring counties to the north where there had been heavier snowfall.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation issued a warning Tuesday afternoon that blowing snow was causing black ice on road surfaces, especially on bridges and overpasses, and spinouts were being reported across the state as a result.
The forecast for the weekend called for much milder weather, perhaps even a thaw, with temperatures predicted to rise into the 30s and maybe 40s.