Meteorologist Mike Augustyniak once again traded a few barbs with the morning crew from KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO in southern California on Monday morning. The last time Augustyniak talked with Dick Helton and the rest of them was during our blisteringly cold Christmas Eve.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation is reopening some major roadways closed earlier because of blowing and drifting snow. Interstate 90 west of Albert Lea reopened Monday morning after snowplows cleared the lanes and winds subsided.
The extreme cold isn’t just uncomfortable. It’s becoming expensive, too, especially for homeowners in rural Minnesota who rely on propane to heat their homes. Prices jumped last fall, and with several subzero nights this winter, the cost of propane continues to climb.
It’s a busy Friday afternoon at Parc Boutique in northeast Minneapolis. Racks full of women’s fashions greet the customers. But Parc’s owner, Thao Nguyen, says the recent cold snap has hurt her in-store sales. “It’s harder for people to come into the shop,” Nguyen said. Just like how tornadoes and hurricanes disrupt economic activity, there is also a steep cost to our cold weather. The lower the temperature drops, the fewer of us venture outside to shop, dine and recreate.
As cold as it might be, we’re still a long way from joining the ranks of the coldest Minnesota winters.
Another band of arctic air is descending into the northern U.S., bringing a wave of frigid temperatures expected to linger for most of the week. Temperatures plunged below zero in North Dakota and northern Minnesota on Monday morning.
The polar vortex that gripped much of the country has moved on, but don’t get too comfortable — another round of frigid air is expected to arrive next week across the northern U.S., from the Dakotas eastward to New England. It’ll be cold, but not the life-threatening cold of last week.
Being warm and comfortable in your home this winter could come with a higher price. Greater energy usage translates to bigger bills. Xcel Energy customers used about 29 percent more natural gas this past December than in December 2012. Customers used about 19 percent more natural gas than expected for December.
Schools canceled classes for a second day as dangerous arctic air kept an icy grip on Minnesota where at least one hospital saw a record number of frostbite cases. At Regions Hospital in St. Paul, 14 people were treated for frostbite and eight patients suffered from hypothermia in the last two days.
On a brutal day in Minnesota, our temperature is similar to Antarctica, or the peak of Mount Everest.
As cold as it’s been in Minnesota, no records have fallen. The Minneapolis record that forecasters had considered the most threatened was for the coldest high temperature for this date, which was 14 degrees below zero in 1909.
Minnesota’s deep freeze has caused a surge of cold-related cases at Regions Hospital in St. Paul. Spokeswoman Kristin Kauffmann says the Regions emergency room had seen five people for frostbite and five for hypothermia by 10 a.m. Monday.
As Gov. Mark Dayton’s decision to mandate all public schools be closed for Monday, many parents may be left wondering how to keep their children busy this afternoon. One potential and thrifty option was just announced at the Mall of America, where the Nickelodeon Universe amusement park will be offering free rides all day.
Monday’s frigid temperatures are creating extra work for heating repair companies. CenterPoint Energy has tripled its staff since Sunday and technicians are working around the clock. Smaller heating repair companies are also seeing a big boost in business.
A whirlpool of frigid, dense air known as a “polar vortex” descended Monday into much of the U.S., pummeling parts of the country with a dangerous cold that could break decades-old records with wind chill warnings stretching from Montana to Alabama.