Forecast calls for bitter cold and dangerous wind chills for entire week

The weather service reported conditions are dangerous with the combination of the below zero temperatures and the “life-threatening” wind chills. Those planning to be outdoors in these extreme cold conditions could get frostbite in as little as 10 minutes on exposed skin.

Mist rises off the surface of the Mississippi River as temperatures remain at -27 degrees below zero early Monday, Feb. 8, near Boom Lake in Brainerd. The river's current is still fast enough to keep the channel open in spots. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

It appears the bitter cold and dangerous wind chills are here to stay in the state, so lakes area residents may want to hunker down indoors for awhile.

The National Weather Service Monday, Feb. 8, issued wind chill advisories in effect for Crow Wing, Aitkin, Cass, Mille Lacs, Todd, Morrison and Wadena counties to include the cities of Aitkin, Brainerd, Pine River, Little Falls, Staples, Long Prairie and Wadena, with some of the advisories extending nearly a week through noon Sunday, Feb. 14.

The weather service placed the northernmost region of the state in a wind chill warning until Tuesday — meaning temperatures can feel as cold as 45 below zero — with the rest of the state under wind chill advisories of various lengths.

This weather pattern, bringing in the arctic air, is putting the Upper Midwest into the deep freeze with wind chill advisories covering Iowa and extending into northern Missouri and running from Montana to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.


With the temperatures bottoming out at -27 degrees below zero Monday, Feb. 8, motorists drive along West Washington Ave. in Brainerd. After a weekend of sub-zero temperatures, workers started the week with even colder temperatures. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

In central Minnesota, dangerous wind chills are expected each night. It will likely feel warmer than 25 below zero during the daytime, but people should expect the wind chill to make it feel colder than 25 below zero in the early evenings continuing during the overnight hours.

The weather service reported conditions are dangerous with the combination of the below zero temperatures and the “life-threatening” wind chills. Those planning to be outdoors in these extreme cold conditions could get frostbite in as little as 10 minutes on exposed skin.

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“It’s definitely going to become dangerous,” meteorologist Woody Unruh with the weather service in Duluth said Monday. “The main thing is just to limit time spent outdoors. If you have to go outdoors, just make sure you cover up any exposed skin.

“ … We’d also like to remind people to bring their pets inside because if you leave them outside it could be dangerous for them.”

Unruh said the arctic air is coming from the Canadian prairies in Manitoba and is working its way into Minnesota and North and South Dakotas. He said a stable low pressure pattern is bringing this cold mass to the Northland this week.

Bundled against the sub-zero temperatures Monday, Feb. 8, David Patterson walks his dogs, Tiny Tank and Bubba Jay in north Brainerd. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch


It’s going to be frigid this week but not the longest stretch of subzero temperatures the Brainerd area has ever seen. Back in 1899 — 122 years ago — the area had eight consecutive days of below zero temperatures. This record does not include the wind chills.

The Brainerd lakes area experienced two consecutive days of below zero temperatures so far this year. Breaking the record doesn’t look likely as there are only three days this week when temperatures are expected to remain below zero.

The weather service said by Monday, President’s Day, the high is expected to be near 7 degrees.

The normal high this time of year is 25 degrees with a normal overnight low of 4 degrees. While temperatures are cold, particularly after a mild winter to date, they aren’t record-breaking with the record lows for this time period typically in the 30-40 below zero range for air temperatures. By the end of February, the normal high rises to 32 degrees.

Dangerous cold is expected to continue in the Northland, the National Weather Service in Duluth reported Monday, Feb. 8. Map / National Weather Service

Detailed forecast for Brainerd area

  • Tuesday, Feb. 9: Sunny and cold, with a high near 1 degree. Wind chill values between 20-30 below. Breezy, with a west wind 5 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. It’s expected to be mostly clear, with a low around 16 below at night. West wind 5 to 10 mph.

  • Wednesday: Partly sunny and cold, with a high near 0. West wind about 5 mph. At night, partly cloudy, with a low around 21 below. Northwest wind around 5 mph.

  • Thursday: Partly sunny and cold, with a high near 3 below zero. North wind around 5 mph. Mostly cloudy at night, with a low about 18 below. Northwest wind around 5 mph.

  • Friday: Partly sunny and cold, with a high near 3 below zero. Northwest wind 5 to 10 mph. Mostly cloudy at night, with a low around 16 below zero. North wind about 5 mph.

  • Saturday: Partly sunny and cold, with a high near zero. North wind 5 to 10 mph. Partly cloudy at night, with a low around 16 below. Northwest wind 5 to 10 mph, with gusts as high as 15 mph.

  • Sunday: Partly sunny and cold, with a high near 4. Northwest wind around 10 mph, with gusts as high as 15 mph. There may be a slight chance of snow showers at night. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 10 below. North wind 5 to 10 mph becoming east after midnight.

With temperatures hitting a low of -27 degrees below zero Monday, Feb. 8, the winter sun breaks through the mist on the Mississippi River in Brainerd. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch



Hypothermia is caused by prolonged exposures to very cold temperatures.

When exposed to cold temperatures, the body begins to lose heat faster than it’s produced. Lengthy exposures will eventually use up the body’s stored energy, which leads to lower body temperature.

If venturing outdoors, wear layers of loose-fitting, water repellant warm clothing; a hat, as 40% of body heat is lost from the head; and tight-fitting mittens.

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Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia especially dangerous, because a person may not know that it’s happening and won’t be able to do anything about it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the CDC, warning signs of hypothermia in adults are shivering, exhaustion or feeling very tired, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness. Hypothermia is a medical emergency. If any warning signs are noticed, take the person’s temperature and if it is below 95 degrees, seek medical attention immediately.

If not able to get medical help right away, try to warm the person up by:

  • Getting them into a warm room or shelter;

  • Removing any wet clothing;

  • Warming the center of the person’s body — chest, neck, head and groin — using an electric blanket, if available. A person may also use skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels or sheets.

  • Offering warm drinks to help increase body temperature, but not alcoholic drinks. Do not try to give beverages to an unconscious person.

  • Keeping the person dry and wrapping their body in a warm blanket after body temperature has increased.

  • Getting the person proper medical attention as soon as possible.


Frostbite is a type of injury caused by freezing. It leads to a loss of feeling and color in the areas it affects, usually extremities such as the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers and toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation, the CDC states.


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People may have a greater chance of developing frostbite if they have poor blood circulation and are not properly dressed for extremely cold temperatures. If a person notices redness or pain in any skin area, they should get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin as frostbite may be beginning.

Signs of frostbite include a white or grayish-yellow skin area, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy and numbness.

People who have frostbite may not know it until someone else points it out because the frozen parts of their body are numb. If a person notices signs of frostbite on themselves or someone else, they should seek medical care.

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If someone shows signs of frostbite but no signs of hypothermia and immediate medical care is not available:

  • Get the person into a warm room as soon as possible.

  • Unless absolutely necessary, do not walk on feet or toes that show signs of frostbite — this increases the damage.

  • Do not rub the frostbitten area with snow or massage it at all. This can cause more damage.

  • Put the areas affected by frostbite in warm — not hot — water. The temperature should be comfortable to the touch for unaffected parts of the body.

  • If warm water is not available, warm the affected area using body heat. For example, you can use the heat of an armpit to warm frostbitten fingers.

  • Do not use a heating pad, heat lamp, or the heat of a stove, fireplace or radiator for warming. Affected areas are numb and can easily burn.

The CDC advises people to be prepared by taking a first aid or emergency resuscitation course.

Frozen pipes

When temperatures plummet, the risk of pipes freezing and bursting skyrockets. In fact, burst pipes are one of the most common causes of property damage during frigid weather and can cause thousands in water damage — easily $5,000 or more, according to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.


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According to a January 2019 story by Consumer Reports, the pipes most at risk are those in unheated interior spaces such as basements, attics and garages. But even pipes running through cabinets or exterior walls can freeze.

The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety and the American Red Cross offer advice on how to prevent pipes from freezing once the temperature starts dropping outside:

  • Run water.

  • Keep garage doors closed, especially if there are water supply lines in the garage.

  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing, especially if sinks are on an exterior wall.

  • Let cold water drip from a faucet served by exposed pipes.

  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature during day and night. A cold snap is not the time to set back the thermostat at night to save a few bucks on the heating bill.

  • If planning to be away during cold weather, leave the heat on in the home, set to a temperature no lower than 55 degrees.

  • For the long term, add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in those areas. And to prevent drafts, seal cracks and openings around windows, doors and at sill plates, where the house rests on its foundation.

If the faucet is on and only a trickle comes out, the pipes may be frozen.
“If you suspect the pipes are frozen, be careful when thawing them out because if the pipe has already burst, the water will come flowing out and flood your home,” stated John Galeotafiore, who oversees Consumer Reports’ testing of home products and power gear, in the 2019 story.

If a pipe has broken, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve, which is usually at the water meter or where the main line enters the house. If the water is still running and no pipes have burst, take the following steps:

  • Turn on the faucet. When heating the frozen pipe and the ice plug begins to melt, a person wants the water to be able to flow through. Running water through the pipe, as cold as it is, will help melt ice in the pipe.

  • Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer or a portable space heater or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, a kerosene or propane heater, a charcoal stove, or any device with an open flame; the high heat can damage the pipes or even start a fire.

  • Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. Check all other faucets in the home to see if there are any additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.

  • Call a licensed plumber if unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible or if the pipe can’t be thawed.

JENNIFER KRAUS may be reached at or 218-855-5851. Follow me at on Twitter.


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