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Dangerous cold and snow forces school closures

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 27, 2014 at 2:05 pm •  Published: January 27, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Another round of subzero temperatures, high winds and drifting snow forced most Minnesota schools to stay closed Monday, while the freezing conditions caused delays for morning commuters on light rail and commuter lines.

The school closures extended to several universities, including the University of Minnesota. Griffin Ferry was among students who knew he'd have some make up work because of the unscheduled day off.

"I've never experienced anything like this, these persistent subzero temperatures," said Ferry, a law student at the University of Minnesota School of Law. "It's very unpleasant."

The National Weather Service issued a wind chill warning statewide through noon Tuesday.

By midmorning Monday, much of the state was in the negative teens, with wind chills ranging from the negative 30s to the negative 40s. It was negative 23 degrees in St. Paul early Monday. At 11 a.m., it was 12 degrees below zero in St. Paul, with a wind chill of negative 35. In North Central Minnesota, Flag Island had a temperature of negative 20, with a wind chill of negative 45.

The Northstar commuter rail experienced some delays Monday morning when switches on the tracks in Elk River froze. Buses were used to bring commuters to work. In the metro area, light rail service between the Mall of America and the Humphrey Terminal 2 Station was suspended for about 90 minutes due to snow on the tracks, the Star Tribune reported.

Statewide, road conditions were improving. The Minnesota Department of Transportation began reopening some major roadways, including Interstate 90 west of Albert Lea and Interstate 94 from Moorhead to Alexandria, after closing them Sunday due to blowing and drifting snow.

Xcel Energy also lifted its appeal for conservation on Monday, after three natural gas pipelines were knocked out by an explosion in Canada. The Minneapolis-based utility had previously asked customers to turn down their thermostats.

Meanwhile, parents, day-care centers and home day-care providers had to be creative to keep kids from bouncing off the walls, after being stuck inside for yet another day.

The children at Karen Ueland's home day care in St. Paul have been burning off extra energy by dancing and marching around with instruments. Ueland said she puts the CD from the movie "Madagascar" in, and the kids love dancing to the song: "I Like to Move It."

"That's their favorite thing to do. ... We put the CD on, and they go crazy when that song comes on, and they all dance," she said.

ManaRae Schaan, executive director of Tiny Tots and Little Tykes Preschool and Child Care Center in West St. Paul, said she's glad her center has a room where kids can ride tricycles, scooters or jump rope. They also have been playing more games, reading and hosting more special events — last week, staff from Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium brought in starfish and artifacts for the kids to touch.

"We're just trying to keep them busy. But it is definitely more of a challenge when you can't get outside, that's for sure," Schaan said. "Kids sleep better and they do better when they can get outside."

Chadd Romanowicz, 35, of St. Paul, said he was glad his kids were home from school during this bitter cold.

"We can barely take it — our little kids can't do this," said Romanowicz, who said he is from International Falls, Minn., which is known for its extreme cold temperatures.

Romanowicz, a property maintenance technician, was shoveling a city sidewalk on Monday. He said he handles the cold by wearing several layers and taking coffee breaks to warm up. After just three minutes of talking, frost had formed on his beard and eyelashes.

"It's time for a break," he said.


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