Bone-chilling cold blanketing the Dakotas; brief warmup expected for New Year's holiday


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BISMARCK, North Dakota — Bone-chilling cold blanketed the Dakotas as the workweek began, though a brief warmup was in store for the New Year's holiday later in the week.

Temperatures early Monday dropped well below zero in North Dakota, with wind chills as cold as the minus 30s across the northern part of the state. Frostbite to exposed skin can happen within half an hour under such conditions, according to the National Weather Service.

The extreme cold also can be hard on vehicles, especially older models with less-modern technology, said Keith Anhorn, who works for Ole Olson's Towing in Minot. The business was experiencing an above-normal amount of calls for vehicle jump-starts early Monday, after a relatively warm weekend, he said.

"When it hits on a Monday, it's not a good day for it to be so cold," Anhorn said. "Everybody has relaxed over the weekend and forgot to plug their vehicle in or just didn't think it would be this cold."

The icy temperatures were caused by arctic air flowing south from Canada and exacerbated by the wind, according to weather service meteorologist Bill Abeling.

"It just takes a little bit of wind ... and you've got 30-35 below zero wind chills," he said. "This would be more or less a typical arctic outbreak."

The wind chills weren't quite as bad in South Dakota, but up to 4 inches of snow was expected in the southern part of the state. The 1.8 inches of snow that fell in Rapid City on Sunday broke that city's record for the date of 1.6 inches, set in 1976, according to the weather service.

The agency posted wind chill advisories for most areas of the two states into Tuesday morning. However, a shift in the jet stream promised to allow warmer air from the Pacific Northwest to come into the region on Wednesday and Thursday — New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. High temperatures in the two states Thursday were forecast in the teens, 20s and 30s.

Another cooldown was expected by the weekend, however, with temperatures plummeting again early next week.

"Right back into the icebox," Abeling said.

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