WILLMAR — With dangerously cold temperatures arriving over the region Saturday evening and expected to remain for several days, now is the time to review cold weather safety tips and prepare accordingly.
The National Weather Service expects actual air temperatures in Willmar to dip to 21 below zero on Saturday night and bottom out at 29 below on Sunday night, with the first forecasted high temperature above zero expected at 7 degrees on Wednesday.
The resulting wind chills are expected to reach 40 to 60 degrees below zero and there is a wind chill warning in effect from 6 p.m. tonight to noon on Tuesday.
The weather service says the records for daily low and high temperatures could be eclipsed by the incoming cold air.
The Centers for Disease Control’s “Extreme Cold Guide” — available via the State Department of Health website at www.health.state.mn.us — lists the usual highlights: dress warmly and in layers, stay dry, wear a hat, scarf and mittens, avoid frostbite and hypothermia, notify someone before you go out or start a trip and stay with your car if you become stranded.
Frostbite most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers and toes, according to the CDC. Those affected should get out of the cold at the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area. Frostbite is indicated by white or grayish-yellow skin, skin the feels unusually firm or waxy and numbness. Seeking medical care is recommended but if not available, home treatment can include immersing the affected area in warm, but not hot, water and warming the affected area with body heat. Don’t rub the frostbitten area or use a heating pad or stove, fireplace or radiator for warming, as the affected area can easily be burned when numb.
The CDC also offers these tips to recognize and treat hypothermia. The warning signs include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands and drowsiness. If a person’s temperature is below 95 degrees, seeking medical attention in recommended. If medical care isn’t available, warm the person with blankets and clothing, give them warm beverages and keep them in a warm blanket.
The coldest low temperature ever recorded in Minneapolis-St. Paul was 41 below on Jan. 21, 1888. The records date back to 1872. The coldest daytime high temperature was 20 below on Jan. 15, 1888.
The coldest low temperature in St. Cloud, based on records dating to 1880, was 43 below on Jan. 9, 1977. The coldest high temp in St. Cloud was also 20 below, recorded on Feb. 2, 1996.
— Staff reports