The bone-chilling blast of arctic air earned Minnesota national bragging rights this week — if nothing else.

For nearly seven consecutive days, the state was designated the chilliest in the Lower 48.

“Minnesota’s been about the coldest it can be,” meteorologist Mike Griesinger said Wednesday night. “It’s not a yearly tradition, fortunately.”

Not yearly, but not usual either. Minnesota gets whomped with a polar vortex once or twice a decade, and that’s when northern towns make the news.

Ely. Cotton. Tower. International Falls. And now, Norris Camp, Minn. — a tiny outpost in the Beltrami Island State Forest

Temperatures bottomed out Wednesday morning at a staggering 48 below zero at Norris Camp, about 30 miles south of Warroad.

But without an instrument to measure wind speed, they didn’t have a windchill reading, said Shawn DeVinny, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.

About 140 miles south, Ponsford, Minn., dropped to 37 below Wednesday morning and took top honors in Minnesota for the coldest windchill at 66 below.

The official low in the Twin Cities on Wednesday was 28 below zero at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, a couple of degrees short of the record for this date, 30 below in 1887.

Which explains why dozens of returning travelers were forced to get their waiting vehicles jumped.

Mark’s Towing, the private service MSP advertises in its long-term parking ramps, fielded calls all week from stranded motorists, an official said.

At least a couple of record lows were set in the state. Redwood Falls lowered its record from 27 below in 1951 to 29 below.

Mankato set a mark of 28 below, roaring past a not-so-bad 20 below.

But the Iron Range towns of Tower and Embarrass firmly held onto the state’s overall subzero record of 60 below from Feb. 2, 1996.

What was Minnesota’s least-frigid temperature as daybreak neared Wednesday?

Grand Marais along the North Shore was a relatively balmy 17 below.

But a reprieve is coming. Temperatures in the Twin Cities might shoot all the way back up to 45 degrees by this weekend.

“People might be going out and getting car washes,” said meteorologist Brent Hewett. “But I don’t know if we’ll see shorts yet.”


Staff writer Mary Lynn Smith contributed to this report.