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Wisconsin braces for dangerous deep freeze

  • Associated Press
  • January 5, 2014 - 5:30 PM

MILWAUKEE — Wisconsin braced Sunday for what the National Weather Service said will be its coldest weather since the arctic blast of February 1996.

Dangerously cold air began settling over Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon and was forecast to become life-threatening Sunday night through Tuesday, the weather service said. Strong winds will mean wind chills plummeting between 35 below to 60 below across the state by Monday morning and again Tuesday morning.

The deep freeze put a chill on outdoor tailgating at Lambeau Field in Green Bay before the 49ers-Packers playoff game, though what could be one of the coldest games in NFL history was sold out. It was 5 degrees at game time, but the wind made it feel like minus-11.

Wind chills in the teens and 20s below zero were common across Wisconsin by Sunday afternoon, while actual temperatures were mostly in the single digits above and below zero.

Business was slow Sunday at Barriques, a coffee shop in Madison.

"I don't do cold weather at all. It hurts to breathe," said barista Sara Melius. But she also said she expected big crowds Monday despite the coming cold.

"Last year when we had the big snowstorm and the city shut down, it was really busy in here," she said.

Gov. Scott Walker decided not to order schools to cancel classes statewide Monday, as his Minnesota counterpart did. But he encouraged local school districts to make their own decisions.

Many Wisconsin school districts, including Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay, decided to play it safe and told their students to stay home Monday.

© 2014 Star Tribune