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Expect snow, extremely cold wind chills ahead

Snowfall forecast totals range from 6-8 inches south of the lakes area to 1-2 inches farther north with the lake region getting anywhere from 3-6 inches starting Sunday night, Jan. 27, into Monday morning. Source: National Weather Service Duluth1 / 2
Wind chill values in the forecast with the National Weather Service for Tuesday, Jan. 29. Source: National Weather Service in Duluth2 / 2

For those who wondered if it can get any colder, there is a short answer—yes.

Bitterly cold wind chills are expected next week as this cold stretch of subzero temperatures continues its icy grip. Several inches of snow may join the mix Monday, Jan. 28, the National Weather Service in Duluth reported.

But more notable than the possible snow, is the extreme cold, which the weather service noted Friday, is arriving during the middle of the week with the potential for wind chills values between 30-50 below.

Cass, Crow Wing and Aitkin counties are in a wind chill advisory through Saturday morning.

"Bitterly cold temperatures and dangerous wind chills continue through the weekend," the weather service reported. "... Bitterly cold temperatures with dangerous wind chills will continue

through next week. Temperatures will warm up slightly on Monday with snow likely, mainly south and west. Extreme cold is possible next week, with rarely seen wind chills through the middle of the week. ... The coldest temperatures will be at night and early morning, but dangerous wind chills will continue during the day as well, especially during the middle of next week."

Fresh snow may begin Sunday afternoon with the heaviest snowfall between 6 p.m. Sunday and midnight and 6 a.m. Monday. Snowfall should be winding down by noon Monday, the weather service reported. This time, in a change of recent patterns, the heaviest snow may fall south of the Brainerd lakes area.

The forecast calls for 3-4 inches of snow for most of Crow Wing County and northeastern Cass County. Much of Aitkin County may receive 2-3 inches. But parts of southern Cass County, most of Morrison County and southern Mille Lacs County may see 4-6 inches with 6-8 inches predicted farther south.

The extremely cold wind chills of 52 below predicted for the Brainerd area Tuesday night through Wednesday morning means it takes just 10 minutes for exposed skin to develop frostbite. The high Tuesday may be 10 below zero with an overnight low of 28 below zero.

Wind chill safety tips

• Minimize exposure—avoid exposure during the coldest wind chills.

• Stay dry—wet clothing causes body heat to be lost faster. Wear waterproof, insulated boots.

• Stay covered—wear a hat and gloves or mittens. At least half your body heat is lost if your head is not covered.

• Dress in layers—trapped air between layers helps to insulate.

• Wind chill is how the wind and cold feel on exposed skin. Wind and cold combined carry heat away from the body, which can cause frostbite and/or hypothermia.

Weather radar out for 5 days

Beginning Monday, the WSR-88D weather radar operated by the National Weather Service in Duluth will be out of service for about five days while the radar's transmitter unit undergoes modernization and refurbishment, the weather service reported. Assuming the upgrade process progresses smoothly, the KDLH radar is expected to be back in full operational service no later than Feb. 1.

During the radar downtime, adjacent WSR-88D weather radars include: Grand Forks, N.D. (KMVX), Twin Cities/Chanhassen (KMPX), La Crosse, Wis. (KARX), Green Bay, Wis. (KGRB), and Marquette, Mich. (KMQT). Data from these adjacent radars can be accessed at https://radar.weather.gov/index.htm, or any number of mobile phone apps on both the iOS and Android platforms. Canadian weather radar data covering far northern Minnesota, and the Minnesota Arrowhead can also be accessed from the Dryden, Ontario (XDR), and Lasseter Lake, Thunder Bay, Ontario (XNI), radars via the Environment and Climate Change Canada website, https://weather.gc.ca/radar/index_e.html. The Canadian radar data is also available on some mobile phone apps.

This transmitter update is the second major phase of the NEXRAD Service Life Extension Program, a series of upgrades and replacements the weather service reports will keep the nation's weather radars providing cutting edge, high-quality data that is critical to the issuance of timely and accurate weather warnings well into the 2030s.

The primary goal of this transmitter refurbishment phase of the program is to perform a comprehensive upgrade of a majority of the electronic "guts" of the radar transmitter system, including replacing old fuses with modern circuit breakers, and upgrading electronic cables and connectors to modern standards from the original hardware installed in the 1990s. Although the form, fit and functionality of the transmitter will remain the same, the upgrade to modern hardware equipment will help keep the 24-year-old radar operating smoothly for another 20 years, the weather service stated in a news release.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service, the United States Air Force, and the Federal Aviation Administration are investing $150 million in the seven-year life extension program. The first phase was the installation of the new signal processor (already completed on KDLH). The two remaining projects are the refurbishment of the pedestal and equipment shelters, to be completed over the next few years. All phases of the Service Life Extension Program will be complete in 2022. The KDLH WSR-88D radar is part of a network of 159 operational weather radars. The Radar Operations Center in Norman, Okla., provides life cycle management and support for all WSR-88Ds.