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Wind chill advisory in effect, warm up on the horizon

A wind chill advisory is in effect through Saturday morning as the cold snap continues. "Gusty northwest winds will bring another batch of arctic air to the region overnight," the National Weather Service in Duluth reported, noting wind chill val...

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A wind chill advisory is in effect through Saturday morning as the cold snap continues.

"Gusty northwest winds will bring another batch of arctic air to the region overnight," the National Weather Service in Duluth reported, noting wind chill values of tonight are expected to drop to 30 below to 40 below after dark.

The weather service noted the pattern bringing frigid air to much of the country is staying in place causing temperatures that are 20 to 30 degrees colder than normal across a vast swath of the central U.S. and Upper Great Lakes. The cold air mass is expected to push temperatures at or below freezing as far south as central Texas.

Right here in the lakes area, the wind will continue to be a factor for a sunny if chilly weekend ahead. Saturday and Sunday are not expected to warm past 8 degrees for highs. Wind chill values of 20 below to 30 below are expected during the day Saturday. Overnight lows are still forecast to drop into subzero temperatures on both Sunday and Monday.

Next week should start off cold with Monday echoing the weekend highs. But Tuesday starts a climb into double-digit highs and lows above zero. By Thursday, the forecast calls for a balmy 26 degrees and sunshine.

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This latest chill comes after a mild record-setting December with daytime highs in the 40s. But this winter still pales in comparison to the deep freeze a year ago. And a warm-up is looming on the horizon.

So far in the new year, temperatures are 5.9 degrees colder than average. The last five nights ranged from 12 below to 15 below with daytime highs this week topping out at 5 above. The airport recorded a wind chill of 23 below at 7 a.m. Wednesday.

This January to date the snow depth ranged from a trace to 1 inch continuing a snow drought since the 4 inches on the ground melted before Christmas. These days yards are still walkable without the dense snowpack of a typical winter. Last year at this time, nearly a foot of snow covered the ground. The normal snowfall usually brings 8.4 inches in November, 9.7 inches in December - typically the snowiest month of winter using data from 1981 to 2010 - and 9.6 inches in January.

So far, the winter has been without much snow and is covering the gamut of being above normal for highs in December and colder than normal in January. But it could be worse.

A year ago, during the miserably cold winter of 2013-2014, the numbers were harsh by comparison. Temperatures for January of 2014 were nearly 10 degrees colder than average. Last year 26 nights were below zero - 16 of those nights were 24 degrees below zero and 11 of them were about 30 below - without ever considering wind chill. How cold was it? On Jan. 7, 2014, the high temperature of the day maxed out at 16 below zero. Eight days in the month had high temperatures topping out below zero.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Dispatchbizbuzz .

Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
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