Wind chill values may drop to hazardous lows Thursday.
Temperatures were expected to drop below zero Wednesday night and stay there until Saturday. The National Weather Service reported Thursday’s high temperature may rise to 1 below before dropping to a low of about 25 below. Wind chill values on Thursday night may reach 30 below to 40 below as winds gusting to 20 mph. There also is a 50 percent chance of snow. Friday should be sunny and cold. The high isn’t expected to rise above zero. But the forecast calls for calm conditions without a biting wind chill to add to the 12 below overnight air temperature.
Saturday temperatures should recover — a bit — to a high near 19 degrees. There is a 40 percent chance of snow, mainly after noon.
The normal this time of year is 22 degrees with a low of 4 below. The record cold for Jan. 31 at 46 below was recorded in 1996.
The latest cold snap means residents may be dealing with ice from Monday’s storm for awhile.
Crow Wing County Highway Engineer Tim Bray said the colorful radar image showing the wintry mix of snow, rain and freezing rain Monday brought back memories of the Dec. 31, 2010, ice storm, where the ice hung seemingly throughout the winter.
Monday, Crow Wing County Highway Department crews were planning for the rain and the cold forecast in its wake.
Bray said conditions varied across the county with rain in the south and snow to the north. At midnight it was raining in the southern parts of the county. With snow, the county crews are typically out at the end of the event. With rain, Bray said they are out fighting it while it’s happening.
“It was quite icy shortly after midnight,” Bray said.
It was so icy, Deerwood reported at least two semitrailers were stuck, unable to move forward or back, on the County Highway 12 — also known as the Deerwood shortcut. The city reported the section of the highway was closed for a time.
The county received a call for a sand truck about 1 a.m. as trucks were sideways in the road. The county highway department truck put on chains and started sanding there. A tow truck was called to assist the semitrailers.
Bray said the department’s maintenance staff sleep with a phone.
“These guys were up from 2 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday without a complaint,” Bray said of road crews. “They just know it’s their job.”
Remembering 2010, Bray said they knew they had to push it to clear roads ahead of the cold temperatures if they wanted to beat the ice.
“It paid off this morning,” Bray said of clearer road surfaces.
Technology also helps as the county has a couple of trucks with the ability to determine not only the air temperature but also the pavement temperature below their wheels.
Bray said that helps on days when conditions are marginal and it helps to know when roads are icing again after they’ve been treated. Tuesday morning, a truck was able to detect a drop of 7 degrees in pavement temperature.
“It dropped so quickly, it started to ice up again and we were able to be aware of that,” Bray said, adding in these cases it’s not enough to have a policy to work from.
“You have to be able to call an audible,” Bray said, adding the technology helps them make sure the audible is the proper one.