Area residents woke up Friday to temperatures of 30 degrees below zero and wind chills of 52 degrees below zero -- the coldest weather in Brainerd in seven years, the DNR office in Brainerd reported.
The actual low temperature Friday morning was 31 degrees below zero, the National Weather Service in Duluth reported. On Jan. 26, 1997, the DNR office in Brainerd recorded a temperature of 33 degrees below zero.
The cold weather led to area schools being closed. Aitkin, Brainerd, Crosby-Ironton, Staples-Motley, Pillager and Walker-Hackensack-Akeley all were closed Friday because of the low temperatures. Little Falls also was closed for a scheduled in-service day.
In Brainerd, the cold weather created a fuel-gelling problem with the school district's diesel buses. That, combined with the temperature, was reason enough for Jerry Walseth, superintendent of Brainerd schools, to cancel school Friday.
"Our job is to transport kids to and from school safely," said Walseth. "We determined we couldn't do that today. ... Therefore, it was a very obvious decision -- we're not going to jeopardize the children when we can't guarantee their safety."
The Brainerd High School girls' basketball game and boys' wrestling meet scheduled for Friday were postponed. The girls' basketball game was rescheduled to Feb. 3. The wrestling meet has yet to be rescheduled. All school activities are on as scheduled for Saturday.
Crosslake -- minus 35.
East Gull Lake -- minus 35.
Staples -- minus 33.
Isle -- minus 32.
Brainerd -- minus 31.
Longville -- minus 29.
Pine River -- minus 29.
Aitkin -- minus 27.
Little Falls -- minus 27.
(Source: The National Weather Service)
Wadena-Deer Creek, Pine River-Backus and Pequot Lakes schools remained open and started at their regular times.
Jim Oraskovich, superintendent of Pequot Lakes schools, said if the district stayed on schedule, based on the weather conditions and the fact that the district uses gasoline-powered buses, schools could be open. He said he ruled out a late start because winds would be increasing later in the morning.
"I'm getting calls from parents upset we're having school," said Oraskovich. "I can understand they have a concern and with this cold there is a safety factor, but if we are operating on normal schedule I feel we're not putting kids at any great risk and that's why we decided to go."
Oraskovich and Walseth said if parents choose to keep kids home at any time because of severe weather, the students will get an excused absence.
Verndale and Pierz schools started two hours late.
Central Lakes College also was in session today, but Joe Birmingham, CLC president, was unavailable for comment.
A wind chill advisory was in effect until noon, the National Weather Service in Duluth reported. Temperatures were to increase to 7-12 degrees below zero, with wind chills between 35-45 degrees below zero. Low temperatures Friday night are expected to be 18-23 degrees below zero.
A slight warm-up is forecasted for Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday high temperatures are expected to be 3-8 degrees and up to 2 inches of snow is possible. On Sunday, high temperatures could reach 12 degrees.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.