ND to see life-threatening wind chills Saturday to Tuesday
Life-threatening wind chill temperatures of 60-below zero will spread across North Dakota from Saturday until Tuesday, and emergency managers are asking the public to prepare.
The dangerous arctic air will come Saturday night, bringing actual air temperatures of 30 below and wind speeds of 25 mph, according to a weather alert from the National Weather Service.
In such conditions, frostbite can occur in less than five minutes.
National Weather Service meteorologist Patrick Ayd said when outside, people must cover all exposed skin — no matter what.
“Whether you’re walking down the street or if you’re stranded out in the middle of nowhere, that kind of frostbite is the same for everybody,” said Ayd, who is based in Bismarck.
Dunn County Emergency Manager Denise Brew stated in an email that the public should take precautions like letting someone know when they leave on a car trip, carrying a winter survival kit or, if possible, just stay at home.
“The first responders that must go out in these conditions are at risk also,” she wrote, “so please think of the risks before heading out.”
Weather will shift from bad to worse, with blizzard conditions Friday afternoon into Saturday turning into extremely low wind chills through Tuesday, Ayd said.
Blizzard conditions will start across the north and move south across southwestern North Dakota later Friday afternoon and evening, and will bring gusting winds around 40 mph.
The winds’ interaction with recent snowfall and additional light snowfall will create the “potential for severe blizzard conditions,” Ayd said.
The second phase will be an arctic air mass moving in from northern Canada on Saturday, bringing 50-below wind chills that night and 60-below wind chills Sunday night and Monday morning.
Officials offered safety tips for the frigid days:
-- Don’t let your gas tank get below half-full in case you become stranded and need to keep the engine running to stay warm.
-- Dress for the conditions outside — even if you wear lighter clothes while in your warm car and keep outside clothes handy too.
-- If you become stranded, stay with the car. That way, you’ll be easier to find and you’ll stay out of the wind gusts.
-- Avoid overexertion outside — shoveling snow, pushing a car or just walking in deep snow can make you sweat which can lead to chill and hypothermia.
Such extreme temperatures call for pet precautions, too.
Ayd recommends only keeping dogs outside to do the necessary business and keeping an eye on them in the meantime.
“Don’t just send them out the door,” he said.
“They’re gonna get frostbite pretty quick as well.”
Even outdoor dogs should be kept in at least the garage away from the wind, and owners should make sure dogs’ water doesn’t freeze.
“The big thing is limit their time outside just like yourself,” Ayd said.
In the six years he has worked at the NWS, Ayd has not seen wind chills as low as predicted for the coming days.
“This is kind of another level of cold,” he said.