A previously mild winter turned into a deep freeze last week, with 30-below-zero temperatures for a two-day stretch. Schools closed throughout the region, as did businesses and government agencies across the state.
The United States Postal Service suspended delivery Wednesday, Jan. 30, in Minnesota, western Wisconsin, Iowa and western Illinois. The decision delayed the delivery of mail including newspapers, but the Postal Service wasn’t the only one to halt its service.
In Wisconsin, some wholesale beer distributors opted not to deliver, for the safely of their drivers and to prevent beer bottles and cans from exploding as they froze. Governor Tony Evers declared a state of emergency in the face of life-threatening conditions, directing state agencies to closed to public business.
In Minnesota, Xcel Energy asked customers to set thermostats no higher than 63 degrees to conserve energy. And the Twin Cities branch of the National Weather Service warned residents that wind chills that night would be “downright dangerous in many spots.”
The temperatures were cold enough to bring frostbite to exposed skin in minutes, and metro hospitals saw an increase in visits for frostbite and hypothermia, Minnesota Public Radio reported.
The extreme cold was brought by a split in the polar vortex that carried frigid air south into the Upper Midwest.
As the postal service resumed delivery, a spokesperson for the Northland District asked residents to clear snow and ice from walkways, steps and six feet on each side of mailboxes, allowing mail carriers to deliver letters and packages safely and quickly.
Temperatures rebounded over the weekend. Thermometers inched above freezing on a sunny Saturday. Sunday brought fog and temps of 39 degrees in the Twin Cities metro area. Roads were icy Monday from a round of freezing rain Sunday night.