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“This is the coldest temp I’ve run in since 2010,” said Andrew Ashton of St. Paul, and his face bore witness as he finished his 8-mile run near the Como Zoo on Monday.

Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

Ice crystals formed on a window at a home in Medina with the temperature around 10 below zero.

Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

Ann Pointer of Minneapolis stood in the cold blue light of dawn at a bus stop near the Metrodome, waiting for a bus, with the temperature around 10 below zero.

Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Babbitt, Minn., checks in with state low at -29

  • Article by: MARY LYNN SMITH
  • Star Tribune
  • January 21, 2013 - 11:29 PM

The coldest weather to hit the Twin Cities in four years is slapping Minnesotans with a reminder of what a real winter is like.

For some it's just a little too much. Cars grind rather than start. Furnaces work overtime, if at all. Schools start late or cancel classes. And the thrill of snow and ice activities wanes except among the most diehard fans.

Tuesday's temperatures are likely to barely top zero, with maybe a mid-afternoon high of 2 degrees, said Shawn DeVinny, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen. But first Twin Cities residents will have to get over the shock of a frigid morning with temperatures at minus 14 degrees, even lower in the outer suburbs, he said. To make matters worse, the windchill will make it feel like minus 28, if that, he said.

By midweek, temperatures will hit a whopping 10 degrees. They'll eventually make their way into the teens on Saturday and then to an almost balmy 30 degrees on Sunday.

Monday's brutal temperatures fell well short of the average high temperature of 24 and low of 7. Monday's high of minus 2 came at 12:20 a.m. while most Minnesotans were tucked under warm comforters. By 9 a.m., the temperature sank to a low of minus 10 with a windchill that made it feel more like 30 below.

"It was the first time in four years where we stayed below 0 degrees all day," DeVinny said.

And that meant about 900 calls to AAA because of cars that wouldn't start or tires that went flat, said Matt Hehl of AAA Minneapolis. "That's double the volume for an average Monday," he said.

Babbitt took the prize for being the most frigid community in Minnesota, with a temperature of minus 29 on Monday. Many outstate towns reported windchills that made it feel more like 40 below zero.

All that cold prompted precautions, to protect students from being caught in dangerous conditions as they waited for the morning school bus to arrive. By early Monday evening, Duluth, Ely, Esko and Hermantown had canceled Tuesday classes because of the extreme cold.

Bone-chilling as it was, however, it's not all that out of the ordinary -- for a Minnesota winter, that is. "Back in the '70s it was common to have a high that was below zero," DeVinny said. "And windchills of 30 below were common."

For those keeping score, the lowest temperature ever recorded in Minnesota was minus 60, in Tower on Feb. 2, 1996.

And for those looking ahead, the long-range forecast is for below-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation, DeVinny said.

And that could spell good news for those who revel in winter.

But even those who love the snow and ice of the season found Monday's temps a bit much. The Roseville skating Oval and the Wells Fargo Winter Skate rink in St. Paul shut down. Ski race organizers postponed the Tour de Twin Cities sprint race at Battle Creek Regional Park. Wild Mountain closed its ski runs at 4 p.m. on Monday.

But some of the most avid winter aficionados still headed to the hills for a good day of skiing.

"There's something about skiing in the cold," said Joe Yasis, Afton Alps general manager. "Have you ever had a truly fresh cheese curd and it squeaks when you bite into it? Well, the snow makes the exact same sound on a cold day. It's fantastic. It's a different type of skier who likes it."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Mary Lynn Smith • 612-673-4788

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