Icebox temperatures slowly disappeared Tuesday in the Brainerd lakes area — where temperatures finally reached above zero by mid-afternoon.
Brainerd residents experienced 67 straight hours of air temperatures below zero, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). Temperatures finally hit 1 degree just before 2 p.m.
However, this does not include the wind chill. Just before 2 p.m., the wind chill was 15 below. The NWS said the cities of Brainerd, Walker, Aitkin and Pine River will be in a wind chill advisory until noon Wednesday.
The sun Tuesday helped warm up the lakes area and made it a little more bearable for Reichert Bus Service employees working outside.
Larry Hawkins, a bus driver for the past 34 years, said about six Reichert drivers worked on 100 school buses Monday and Tuesday to make sure they’d start Wednesday morning for school to be back in session after a long holiday break. Hawkins said most of the buses started Monday. Only one bus needed a new battery and the ones that initially didn’t start “just needed a jump,” he said.
“The buses are ready to run on Wednesday,” said Hawkins. “They’re all running and nothing major was wrong with any of them.”
Brainerd Superintendent Steve Razidlo sent out a voice-mail message to all parents Tuesday later afternoon that school was indeed going to be open Wednesday. Razidlo offered a friendly reminder to parents to dress their children accordingly for the weather as the wind chill factors were still high. As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, there were no notices of any school closures for Wednesday at area schools.
The forecast in Brainerd Tuesday night was anticipated to be 25 below, with a wind chill factor between 30-35 below with a northwest wind around 5 mph. Wednesday is expected to be sunny and cold, with a high near 1 and a wind chill of 25-35. Thursday’s high will improve to 14 with no wind chill and Friday — even better — 28 degrees. And that’s above zero.
If it seems as though it’s been awhile since it was this cold. Kevin Huyck, meteorologist with the NWS in Duluth researched the record books.
Using Brainerd’s recent temperatures and the forecast for Tuesday, the weather service noted Brainerd had a frosty nine-day average temperature of 11.7 below.
The two previous 14.3 below degree stretches in Brainerd were January 23-31 in 1996; and January 20-28 in 1936.
Using the 36-day average ending on Sunday, the current stretch of weather with a 2.7 degree average ties for 16th coldest stretch on record through Sunday. The previous occurrence of a 36-day stretch this cold or colder was Nov. 30, 2000 through Jan. 4, 2001; and Nov. 28, 1927, through Jan. 2, 1928.
The Brainerd Fire Department had a little fun Tuesday and soaked a full-time equipment operator’s long-sleeved shirt — minus the firefighter — in water and hung it outside by the fire hall’s statue to see how long it would take to freeze. They hung it up at 9:16 a.m. and it was frozen solid in less than six minutes.