Subzero temperatures grip Midwest

A layer of ice cakes Keith Golke’s face during a morning jog Tuesday in Minneapolis, where the temperature bottomed out at 18 below with a wind chill of 32 below.

Associated Press

A layer of ice cakes Keith Golke’s face during a morning jog Tuesday in Minneapolis, where the temperature bottomed out at 18 below with a wind chill of 32 below.

MINNEAPOLIS — Temperatures crashed to arctic levels Tuesday as a severe cold wave rolled across the upper Midwest on the heels of yet another snowstorm, closing schools and making most people think twice before going outside.

Thermometers read single digits early in the day as far south as Kansas and Missouri, where some areas warmed only into the teens by midday.

The ice and snow that glazed pavement was blamed for numerous traffic accidents from Minnesota to Indiana, where police said a truck overturned and spilled 43,000 pounds of cheese, closing a busy highway ramp during the night in the Gary, Ind., area.

The bitter cold snap was responsible for at least one death Tuesday.

A 51-year-old man in northern Wisconsin died from exposure after wandering from his Hayward home early Tuesday, authorities said. His son reported him missing and said he was prone to sleepwalking, and deputies followed footprints in the snow to find the man about 190 yards from his house, Sawyer County Chief Deputy Tim Zeigle said.

The weather service warned that exposed flesh can freeze in 10 minutes when the wind chill is 40 degrees below zero or colder.

Some Minnesotans took it as just another winter day, even in the state's extreme northwest corner where thermometers bottomed out at 38 degrees below zero at the town of Hallock and the National Weather Service said the wind chill was a shocking 58 below.

"It's so beautiful. There's not a cloud in the sky," said Keith Anderson, 66. But he said that's not stopping him from skipping town at the end of the week to spend a couple of months in Nevada and Arizona.

At about 8 a.m., temperatures were minus 40 in International Falls and minus 35 in Roseau. Farther south, Minneapolis hit 18 below zero with a wind chill of 32 below and black ice was blamed for numerous accidents.

In neighboring North Dakota, Grand Forks dropped to a record low of 37 below zero Tuesday morning, lopping 6 degrees off the old record set in 1979, the National Weather Service said.

Schools were closed because of the cold as far south as Iowa, and authorities in Grand Rapids, Mich., issued an extreme cold weather alert and went out urging the homeless to seek shelter.

The leading edge of the cold air was expected to strike the Northeast, mid-Atlantic and South late Tuesday and today. Meteorologists warned that a second wave could drop temperatures into the single digits Thursday and Friday in the mid-Atlantic region.

The storm that blew through the upper Midwest on Monday dropped 6 inches of snow on Minot, N.D., on top of about a foot that fell late last week, and Bismarck collected 4 inches. Bismarck, Fargo and Grand Forks all broke snow records for December, each with more than 30 inches. They were outdone by Madison, Wis., which accumulated a record 40 inches for the month, the weather service said Tuesday.

Subzero temperatures grip Midwest 01/13/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 14, 2009 12:05am]

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