Temperatures in Minot on Sunday were about as cold as the National Weather Service was predicting.
Ken Simosko, meteorologist with the NWS in Bismarck, said it was minus 20 in Minot around 3 p.m. with a wind chill of minus 54.
Simosko said Minot was at minus 10 shortly after midnight Sunday morning, the warmest temperature of the day as of 3 p.m. He said the high for the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. timeframe as of 3 p.m. was minus 16.
“Shortly after midnight was minus 10, but it’s just been getting colder since then,” Simosko said.
While minus 54 is certainly cold, Simosko noted it would have been much colder using the old wind chill index, around minus 78. He said the index they currently use was implemented in November 2001 and is far more accurate, as it makes an adjustment for the calculated wind speed by reflecting the wind at face level, or around 5 feet off the ground; uses an up-to-date model of the human face; takes into account modern heat transfer theory for heat loss from a body to its surroundings; and lowers the calm wind threshold from 4 mph to 3 mph.
“In the old one, once the wind got down to 4 mph, the actual air temperature was basically the wind chill temperature. Now it’s down to 3 mph. So there have been better adjustments,” Simosko said. “The old one was too simplistic and overstated the overall cooling effects of the wind.”
The old index was based on the cooling rate of a small, plastic bottle suspended in the wind.
Simosko didn’t have any major forecast changes for Minot in the coming days, with the wind chill warning still running through this evening.
“Looks like your lowest wind chill between (Sunday) and (Monday) morning will be 59 below,” Simosko said. “Not a lot of change. The main message is life threatening (temperatures), stay indoors if you can and don’t go outside if it’s not necessary.”
He said Minot should still expect to start warming up around the middle of the week. Things start getting better on Wednesday, when Minot should hit 4 above, then 22 on Thursday, 28 on Friday, 31 on Saturday and 29 on Sunday.
“From Thursday onward it looks a whole lot better,” Simosko said. “We’ll go from being below average to above average.”
On Sunday morning, more than 2,600 customers of Excel Energy, mostly in southwest Minot, were without power for a time.
Kathy Aas, Excel Energy community relations manager in Minot, said the outage impacted a total of 2,659 customers. She said the power went out at 9:01 a.m. and by 9:40 a.m., power was restored to 2,185 customers. She said power was restored to the rest of the Excel customers by 10:22 a.m.
The outage was caused by equipment failure, she said.
One family in southwest Minot whose power was off for about the nearly hour and a half said it got “quite chilly.”
Aas said there was another outage but a small one and also in southwest Minot, that was caused by an underground cable failure.
Tom Rafferty, community relations and communications manager for Verendrye Electric Cooperative, said, as of mid-afternoon Sunday, that Verendrye had not had any outages.
Church services canceled
A number of area church services, including in Minot and at Minot Air Force Base, were canceled Sunday because of the extreme cold weather.
Minot Public Schools canceled
Due to the extreme cold, Minot Public Schools will not have school today, Jan. 6. The makeup day will be Thursday, June 5.
Many schools in the area also were canceled today.
While 11 flights left as scheduled, five flights to Minneapolis were canceled Sunday according to the airport’s flight information website, and nine flights to Minneapolis and other destinations were delayed.
No Amtrak service
Marc Magliari, media relations manager for Amtrak in Chicago, said because of the extreme cold weather there will be no westbound trains through Minot today and Tuesday. There will be no eastbound service through Minot Tuesday and Wednesday nights. For more information about the schedules, people can visit the Amtrak website at (www.amtrak.com) or call 1-800-872-7245.
The North Dakota Department of Transportation in Bismarck issued a travel alert Sunday afternoon for eastern North Dakota between U.S. Highway 2 and I-94 and for the north central region of North Dakota. The travel alert was due to blowing snow and scattered ice creating hazardous driving conditions, especially in passing lanes. Motorists were encouraged to reduce speeds and drive accordingly. Cities included in the travel alert were Devils Lake, Grand Forks, Jamestown, Valley City and surrounding areas. Conditions were such that motorists could still travel in those areas, but were advised that conditions were rapidly changing.
A travel alert, originally issued Sunday morning, also remained in effect for the southwestern region of North Dakota because of the blowing snow causing reduced visibility. Cities included in that travel alert were Beach, Dickinson, Mott, Hettinger, Bowman and surrounding areas.
A travel alert has the potential to change to a no travel advised if conditions deteriorate, Transportation Department officials said.
The Transportation Department encourages travelers to monitor road conditions as weather conditions occur and use caution while traveling. For road information, people can call 511 from any type of phone or go to the website: (www.dot.nd.gov). Road condition information on 511 and the travel map is updated daily from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m.
If motorists become stranded, they are advised to stay with their vehicle and call 911 for emergency assistance, Transportation Department officials said.