The Twin Cities' temperature reached 0 at 1 p.m. and was expected to climb higher before 2 p.m., which would end the siege of temperature at or below zero after 86 hours.

Even if the break occurred later, it would be the longest stretch of 0 or below temperatures in 12 years, since the 93-hour stretch from Jan. 31 to Feb. 4, 1996.

Friday morning's low of 22 below was the coldest reading in the streak in the Twin Cities, and the low of 47 below in Embarrass onWednesday was the statewide low.

Center Point Energy reported that its customers would use nearly 50 percent more natural gas Thursday than on the same date a year ago, when the high was 22 and the low 5 below. The company also was finding that the cold was causing ice to clog outdoor air intakes, causing many customers' furnaces to stop producing heat.

MnDOT spokesman Kevin Gutknecht said road conditions should improve dramatically as temperatures warm through the weekend, allowing salt and other chemicals on the road to start melting ice again.

Hennepin County Medical Center reported only 13 cases of frostbite Monday through Thursday and only four cases of hypothermia. None required hospitalization.

School officials around the state have closed schools. Among them is Bloomington, where on Thursday, biodiesel fuels used in the school buses gelled and clogged filters disabling the vehicles. Students were stranded in the bitter cold. For a complete list of school closings check Tonight, look for freezing drizzle possibly mixed with snow and temperatures of about 11 degrees above by 4 a.m. Saturday. Saturday will bring a slight chance of snow before noon and high temperatures of around 18 degrees. Saturday night will dip to 10 degrees.

Bill McAuliffe • 612-673-7646