By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Record-breaking cold and living life below zero is nothing new in the Bold North. But our extreme conditions also took a trip down south and nearly spread from coast to coast.

So how historic is this winter weather event? Good Question.

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WCCO’s Jeff Wagner found some southerners are learning about it the hard way.

They’re the type of forecasts we know all too well, with TV news meteorologists saying things like, “Hard freeze warning tonight through Tuesday at noon” and “We’re going with zero for that overnight low.” Only those are direct quotes from the CBS station in Dallas, Texas.

How historic is this winter weather event?

“We’re seeing impacts as far north as International Falls all the way down to the southern point of Texas,” said Tyler Hasenstein, meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “Typically we don’t see weather events that are happening across the country that far.”

Outside of Florida and the southwest corner of California, much of the United States is weathering artic air that pushed all the way south through Mexico.

In our neck of the woods, that meant a weekend of three straight days with the high temp staying below zero at MSP Airport, averaging around minus 4 F.

“For the Twin Cities this is one of the longest stretches we’ve had of not getting above zero degrees, at least in February,” said Hasenstein, who added that the current cold snap is lasting longer than the 2019 polar vortex. However, it isn’t as intense.

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“2019, we had wind chills that were as cold as the 60s below zero and our coldest has generally been around 40s below zero for this stretch,” he said.

The temps have fallen that low in Texas, but simply dipping below zero is extreme when you consider their average high temperature this time of year is around 60 F.

“We had a wind chill warning issued for the first time ever in north Texas history and that’s when the wind chill gets 18 degrees below zero,” said Scott Padgett, chief meteorologist at our CBS station in Dallas.

The brutal cold has led to rolling blackouts across Texas to keep their power grid from overloading. Several inches of snow have also fallen creating dangerously slick roads.

What are some of the warnings you’re telling them that you’ve probably never had to say before?

“Really trying to drive home the fact of your pipes are gonna burst. This is pipe-bursting cold and trying to let everyone know what to do, keep your cabinets open,” said Padgett.

Hitting 12 degrees might sound balmy at this point to Minnesotans but that was the high temperature in Dallas Tuesday, tied for the city’s coldest high ever in the city.

The temperature will rise in Texas over the next few days, but the nasty winter weather will continue. Padgett said the Dallas-Fort Worth area still has to deal with a winter storm warning through Tuesday night with the potential for up to a quarter of an inch of ice accumulation. Then there’s another round of snow, up to three inches’ worth.

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“We haven’t had a chance to thaw out before we have another storm coming through,” Padgett said.

Jeff Wagner