Frigid temps coming to north-central Wisconsin

  • Article by: DINESH RAMDE
  • Associated Press
  • December 5, 2013 - 6:45 PM

MILWAUKEE — A winter storm that dumped 17 inches of snow in parts of northwestern Wisconsin is being followed by a cold snap that could send temperatures plunging as low as minus 25 degrees — a concern to those working outside but welcome news to some outdoor enthusiasts.

Temperatures across north-central Wisconsin were expected to fall into the single digits above or below zero on Thursday night, said Tom Stangeland, of the National Weather Service. Over the next few days, temperatures in the region should linger in the minus 20s, he added.

"Temperatures are not going anywhere. Once they fall, they're just going stay there for a week," he said. "It's not a record, but it's cold."

The cold snap is part of a major storm system moving east from the Rockies. The icy weather has been blamed for more than a half-dozen deaths in Minnesota, Montana and North Dakota. No Wisconsin fatalities have been reported.

Wisconsin natives know how to cope with cold weather and heavy snowfall. Even so, emergency management officials said it's important to repeat certain safety advice. For example, people who go outside should be dressed warmly with limited exposed skin, and drivers should carry supplies such as dry food, a flashlight and extra clothing.

Gary Gutowski, a former postal carrier who now runs the Wausau Post Office, said he instructs his 45 or so carriers to carry hand warmers and take shelter in a warm place whenever they need a break. He recalled his four years as a carrier, when he would wade through snowbanks and spend up to six hours a day in the cold.

"You just have to fight through it. It doesn't get better as the day goes on," he said. "The secret is, you have to keep moving."

Mail carriers get to enjoy being outside on beautiful summer days, so dealing with the other side of the coin is just part of the job, he added.

Not everyone was discouraged by the forecast. Outdoor enthusiasts in Eagle River, a Vilas County town popular for its winter sports, said they were ecstatic about the coming cold.

Conrad Heeg, the executive director of the Eagle River chamber of commerce, said he couldn't be happier about the subzero forecasts.

"We love it. That's why people travel up here," he said. "It's bad news when we don't have this kind of weather."

Heeg said snowmobile trails are scheduled to open Dec. 17, and the frigid weather will contribute to a better snow base. The cold also will build up the thickness of lake ice, enabling anglers to drive their trucks on the lake for ice fishing.

Geoff Grochocinski, a meteorologist with the Duluth bureau of the National Weather Service, said the cold temperatures, including possible wind chills from minus 20 to minus 35 degrees, will likely remain through late next week.

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