COLUMBIA HEIGHTS (AP) -- Dave Rowan was thinking of warmer places Thursday morning as he gassed up his car in 11-below-zero weather that with the wind felt like 33 below.
"It's ridiculously cold," said Rowan, 24, of Columbia Heights, as he ducked inside a service station to get warm. "I can't wait to come home and lay in my warm bed."
As the coldest spell in Minnesota in two years continued, 9 a.m. readings ranged from 24 below in the northwestern Minnesota community of Fosston to 6 below in Winona, in southeastern Minnesota, resulting in power outages, a school closing and several delays.
The Twin Cities area saw some of the highest temperatures on Thursday at 6 above while highs in Alexandria in west central Minnesota reached only 2 below.
Xcel Energy workers scrambled to restore power to about 5,000 customers -- most in the western Twin Cities area -- as an advisory was issued for potentially dangerous wind chills ranging from 25 below to 40 below across the state.
Rowan can sympathize with the folks without power. The power at his home worked fine, but the same couldn't be said for the heater in his car.
"I'm lucky I don't have to drive very far to work," he said. He estimated his commute time at about eight minutes. "The last few minutes of the ride, it gets a little chilly."
But Kenny Schlagel, 71, welcomed the cold after weeks of unusually warm weather interfered with his favorite hobby: ice fishing.
"Hopefully this cold snap firms everything up so I can finally get out there and do some fishing," said Schlagel, of Columbia Heights, as he sipped coffee at a local doughnut shop.
Classes were canceled at Nay-Ah-Shing School in Onamia and delayed for several hours in Little Falls.
In Duluth, where temperatures made it to 3 above, pipes froze, water mains cracked under streets and septic systems froze. Septic experts and county officials say that without snow, frost creeps deeper into the ground and freezes septic systems.
It took Ryan Johnston hours of struggle with a propane torch just to thaw the cover to gain access to his septic tank. Even after the tank was emptied, the lines to his house were still frozen.
"I've got step one done. Now I have to steam the pipes out. This is what happens without any snow," Johnston said. "The joys of winter."
Forecasts called for a chance of light snow or flurries late Thursday night and overnight lows early Friday near 20 below in the north and 5 below in the south.
Despite the frigid temperatures, Schlagel said he wouldn't live anywhere else.
"I like having four different seasons," he said. "It doesn't make any sense to me to sit down (in Arizona) watching the dust blow around."
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.