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Year-ending bitter cold grips region...

As 2017 came to a close on Sunday, polar air had slipped into the region, plummeting temperatures to their lowest point in three years.

1/02/18 (Tue)

As 2017 came to a close on Sunday, polar air had slipped into the region, plummeting temperatures to their lowest point in three years.

On Wednesday morning, reports were all over the place, from 33 below zero at Tioga to a balmy 5 above zero at Wahpeton.

Unofficial reports from around the region had the coldest temperatures in Carpio and Donnybrook, both at 32 below while Sherwood reported 31 below. Bowbells bottomed out at 30 below and 4 miles of Kenmare it was 29 below. Six miles north and east of Kenmare, it was 1 degree warmer at 28 below zero. Burlington had 27 below while Tolley hit bottom at 26 below. Berthold and Kenmare both had morning lows of 24 below zero.

Official National Weather Service numbers were very similar with the coldest temperature in the state being 33 below at Tioga. Watford City, Hazen, Dunseith and Crosby, all reported 31 below. Glenburn was 29 below and the Minot Air Force Base hit bottom at 27 below zero.

The weekend wasn’t a whole lot different than Wednesday. Bitter cold that lasted into Monday morning. Just about every reporting station in the gooseneck, as well as northwest North Dakota, showed morning lows from 30 below at Portal to 23 below at Carpio. New Town had an unofficial low Saturday morning of 45 below zero and on Sunday morning, Hettinger's official low temperature was 45 below zero.

What makes it even more interesting is that the National Weather Service issued numerous wind chill advisories and warnings in the six-day stretch of bitter cold and extended most of them.

On Wednesday at noon, a wind chill advisory for the entire state was lifted, but it remained well below zero. We just didn’t have the wind chill to contend with.

Also on Wednesday, Environment Canada issued an extreme cold warning for the entire southern half of Saskatchewan, including the Estevan and Oxbow regions as well as the North Dakota counties that bump the border. It was expected to go into effect at 8 p.m., Wednesday night and remain in effect until New Year’s Day.

Weather experts at Environment Canada cautioned Wednesday’s daytime change was only a slight reprieve.

“Another intrusion of frigid Arctic air will sweep across the region,” said David Phillips, a climatologist with Environment Canada. “Extreme windchill values will likely remain over the warning area into the weekend as this stubborn air mass stays entrenched over the area.”

The forecast from the National Weather Service suggested dangerous wind chills would return to the northwest on Friday and remain in effect until Monday morning

For us, the extreme cold means we all need to dress in layers when we go outside and especially protect extremities like fingers, toes and ears from getting stressed or even getting frost bite.

Everyone should carry a winter survival kit in their car and if you get stalled, stay with your vehicle until help arrives.

We have the flexibility to put on layers that might include thick, insulated gloves or thermal underwear.  However, how are animals cared for when the temperature reaches into the 30 below range?

Dan Folske, the Burke County Extension agent in Bowbells, said the best thing any rancher can do is to keep their livestock out of the wind and furnish plenty of hay.

Wednesday may have been an exception to that. It was bitterly cold but the wind was calm or extremely light which made it tolerable.

Cattle are hardy animals and it takes a lot for them to freeze to death, according to Folske. But, if they are left to the elements, they can become disoriented, wander off and freeze.

That’s why the “plenty of hay” is important. Cattle need ample feed to consume so they can turn it into energy to fight the extreme conditions.

“The biggest thing with livestock is wind protection and plenty of hay,” Folske said. “Keep them out of the elements as much as possible.”

Water is also essential, which is a given, but when it gets this cold, supplying water to the livestock can become a major chore to keep stock tanks and water lines from freezing. 

Just about everyone who has cattle, now has their herds in localized feedlots to make sure they are getting enough hay.

Sheep and dairy cows are often left in the barn when the temperature gets this cold, but what about  our pets? How do we keep them from freezing?

Veterinarians at the Pinkerton Animal Hospital in Minot suggest keeping them indoors as much as possible.

There are a number of variables on how dogs and cats can survive the cold. A lot depends on their coat, stored body fat and activity level.

However, when pets go outside with protection on their paws, it doesn’t take long for them to be uncomfortable.

Dogs and cats are susceptible to frost bite and hypothermia and the biggest thing to remember is if we become uncomfortable in the extreme cold, there’s a pretty good chance our pets are uncomfortable as well.

It is also recommended that dogs that are generally in a kennel outside, should be brought indoors during extreme cold and protected to ensure they don’t get frost bite with their paws being the most vulnerable.

The long-term forecast is calling for below normal temperatures and above average precipitation through February.

It’s unclear how accurate that forecast will be, but judging by the temperatures last week at least, we may be in for a long winter. We’ll see about the snow totals... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!