An arctic blast slid into Minnesota late Wednesday, carrying frigid air and gusty winds that will make being outdoors potentially hazardous for the next two days.

The mercury hit a balmy 32 degrees in St. Paul and Lakeville at 6 a.m. Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. But by the same time Thursday, Twin Cities temperatures are expected to be well below zero, accompanied by the coldest windchills of the season, said Tyler Hasenstein, a meteorologist with the NWS’s Chanhassen office.

On the upside, “this is not as bad as last year,” when the Twin Cities saw three days with temperatures of -23 degrees or colder from Jan. 29-31, Hasenstein said. This cold snap will keep temperatures below zero or just above through Thursday, after dangerously cold windchills as low as -30 degrees overnight Wednesday into Thursday morning.

Despite the bone-chilling forecast, Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts announced that both will have school on Thursday.

The cold front dropping out of Canada pushed south across North Dakota at a good clip Wednesday and temperatures fell fast, said Andrew Moore, a meteorologist with the NWS in Grand Forks. The temperature fell 42 degrees in just 9 hours, from 30 degrees to -12 degrees.

Winds gusting as high as 60 miles per hour caused whiteout conditions in rural areas. Early Wednesday, the North Dakota State Patrol advised no travel in the eastern part of the state. Interstate 29 from the South Dakota border to the Canadian border was closed for a time, but later in the day, conditions improved somewhat.

The Twin Cities will see Thursday dawn sunny and cold, with a high of just 1 above. Thursday night’s metro low will be around 11 below. Friday will warm up a bit, with a high of 14 under sunny skies, although wind gusts will continue to be brisk.

But after the bitter cold, warmer air is forecast by the weekend, according to the NWS. Metro area temperatures may hit the 30s by Saturday.