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Winter arrives with cold, snow

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It's heeeere. Winter has finally decided to return to the north woods. Sure it's six weeks late but better late than never.

Temperatures have reached at least 8 below the last five mornings, bottoming out at 22 below Thursday in Bemidji.

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As usual during arctic cold spells, Fosston and Park Rapids were the regional low temperature champs, each dropping to 26 below Thursday - the lowest temperature recorded in the contiguous 48 states that day.

The National Weather Service placed much of the Dakotas and Minnesota under an extreme cold warning for Wednesday night and Thursday. This is a new category that they have developed to replace what they used to call a wind chill warning.

The change in terminology is meant to reflect the fact that it doesn't require wind for conditions to be dangerous - cold temperatures alone can be a serious health threat.

Several dustings of snow have occurred across the Bemidji area recently.

The area continues to stay out of the track of recent Alberta Clippers that have moved across the Midwest. In Minnesota, 3 to 6 inches of snow was expected to accumulate Friday south of a line from Marshall to Winona. Up to 8 inches was possible across northern and central Iowa.

If you're looking for conditions conducive to skiing and snowmobiling, the safest bets are the Minnesota Arrowhead region and areas of northern Wisconsin and Michigan that are subject to heavy lake effect snow.

Downwind of Lake Superior, Marquette, Mich., reported nearly 2 feet of snow cover Friday. Compare that that to Duluth, which reported 2 inches of snow on the ground.

Looking ahead, temperatures should moderate this weekend as another Alberta Clipper moves across the area. Light snow is likely Sunday throughout the area. Another surge of polar air is possible the first week of February.

Forecast models are indicating the potential for temperatures at least as cold as or perhaps even colder than this week.

Tom Siemers is the Pioneer's circulation director.

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