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Dayton closes Minnesota schools Monday, ahead of cold

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gov. Mark Dayton moved Friday to cancel all public school classes statewide on Monday because of dangerous weather, the first such closing in 17 years.

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"The safety of Minnesota's schoolchildren must be our first priority," Dayton said in a statement. The National Weather Service is forecasting the lowest temperatures in at least a decade Monday, with air temperatures that could reach as low as -30 degrees and high temperatures only reaching the minus teens.

"I encourage Minnesotans of all ages to exercise caution in these extreme weather conditions," Dayton said.

The National Weather Service in Duluth has issued the following forecast for the Brainerd Lakes area:

Saturday night.. .Colder. Mostly clear. Lows 25 below to 30 below zero. Northwest winds 10 to 15 mph. Lowest wind chill readings 40 below to 50 below zero after midnight.

Sunday... Partly sunny. Occasional flurries in the afternoon. Highs 13 below to 18 below zero. Northwest winds 10 to 15 mph. Wind chill values 40 below to 50 below zero.

Sunday night and Monday... Mostly cloudy. Lows 27 below to 32 below zero. Highs 15 below to 20 below zero.

Monday night and Tuesday... Partly cloudy. Lows 23 below to 28 below zero. Highs 2 below to 7 below zero.

It was the first time that a Minnesota governor closed schools in response to cold weather since January 16, 1997. According to the State Climatology Office, former Gov. Arne Carlson called off classes that day as temperatures reached minus-32 in the Twin Cities.

Carlson also closed schools statewide on Feb. 2, 1996. That's the day that a state record low was set, according to the Climatology Office, when the air temperature hit minus-60 near the northern Minnesota town of Tower. Carlson first closed schools on Jan. 18, 1994, as temperatures hit 26 below in the Twin Cities.

School administrators in Rochester had already canceled classes for Monday. Dayton's office said he made the decision Friday in order to give school administrators, teachers and parents time to plan for the closures. The state Department of Education was coordinating with school districts to make sure the public is adequately notified about the school closings.

Minnesota law gives the governor the power to "authorize the commissioner of education to alter school schedules, curtail school activities or order school closed," according to the language of the statute.

State officials urge Minnesotans to be prepared for extreme low temperatures by having a plan in case of power or furnace outages or other unforeseen circumstances.

___

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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