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Deep freeze continues today

A bitter cold snap is expected to continue today with a forecasted high temperature of 1 degree. The last time the Brainerd area saw temperatures in the double digits was 10 p.m. Friday night, according to weather observations collected at the Br...

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A sign on the door of Erbert & Gerbert's Sandwich Shop, 404 W. Washington St., Monday informs customers of temporary closure due to frozen pipes. Scott Magnuson, Brainerd Public Utilities supervisor, said city-owned pipes were not affected by the cold Monday. Chelsey Perkins/Brainerd Dispatch

A bitter cold snap is expected to continue today with a forecasted high temperature of 1 degree.

The last time the Brainerd area saw temperatures in the double digits was 10 p.m. Friday night, according to weather observations collected at the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport by the National Weather Service. At 6 a.m. Monday morning, the air temperature dipped to 22 degrees below zero, the low point in a stretch of subzero temperatures that began 8 a.m. Saturday morning.

A brief reprieve from the dangerous cold is expected Thursday, said Melody Lovin, meteorologist with NWS-Duluth, before temperatures are forecasted to head south once again next week.

"We are running about 20 degrees below normal," Lovin said.

The average high temperature for Brainerd this time of year is 20 degrees with an average low of 4 below. If Thursday's forecasted high of 22 degrees remains accurate, it will be the first day in nearly a week when temperatures will approach average.

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"For this week, it's going to be a double-dip situation," Lovin said. "We will see some relief and get warmer temperatures on Thursday. And then it's going to get cold again."

This winter's foray into subzero temperatures is one of the latest observed on record in northern Minnesota, Lovin said. Brainerd residents experienced temperatures in the negative by Nov. 21 last winter, although that was part of an unusually cold 12-day stretch marked by temperatures 10 to 20 degrees below normal.

"It's probably one of the latest dates we've seen," Lovin said.

When temperatures fall to these lows, Lovin said, people should be aware of skin exposure leading to frostbite, particularly if planning to go out in the evenings. Fatalities related to cold weather are often alcohol-related, she added.

"People aren't adequately prepared for it if they haven't been paying attention to the weather, and they find themselves in situations where they can't really help themselves," Lovin said.

Another danger associated with the bitter cold is black ice on the roads. The Minnesota Department of Transportation was reminding residents Monday to maintain a safe distance from other vehicles and to slow down in preparation for the invisible danger.

Frozen pipes can be a concern during Minnesota winters, particularly when it becomes this cold. A handwritten closure sign blaming frozen pipes was posted on the door Monday at Erbert & Gerbert's Sandwich Shop in west Brainerd. Scott Magnuson, Brainerd Public Utilities superintendent, said the pipes frozen there were not the city-owned mains.

Magnuson said during an unrelated main break last week, crews digging noticed frost had penetrated the soil just 2 feet deep. Relatively mild temperatures so far this winter have likely contributed to that, he added.

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"We haven't had any problems (yet this winter)," Magnuson said.

To prevent pipe freezing, the Department of Homeland Security's disaster preparedness website, Ready.gov, recommends insulating problem pipes with newspapers or plastic and allowing water to run at a trickle during the coldest temperatures. Learning where shut-off valves are located is important as well, the website warns, in case pipes burst.

If pipes do freeze, DHS recommends opening all faucets and pouring hot water over the pipes, beginning where they were most exposed to the cold.

While pipes freezing is not an outcome anyone wants from the frigid weather, frozen lakes, on the other hand, are welcomed by many in the Brainerd area. A lack of cold weather this winter led to a late start for lake ice.

"It has been hard to create ice so far," Lovin said. "We are likely creating some good ice with these cold temperatures. I know a lot of our fishermen, this is probably really good news for them."

Organizers of the Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza, known as the largest charitable ice fishing contest in the world slated for Jan. 23, are planning to test the ice thickness on Gull Lake's Hole-in-the-Day Bay Friday. Fifteen inches of ice is what's required for the tournament to go on as planned, according to Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl.

The measuring of the ice Friday will determine whether this week's temperatures were enough to coax along ice production to support the weight of 10,000 participants. An alternate date for two weeks later is slated in case the ice is not ready.

 

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CHELSEY PERKINS may be reached at 218-855-5874 or chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchChelsey .

Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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