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Bitter cold leads schools, college to shut down Tuesday, Wednesday

One of the signs of bitter cold is sun dogs, the bright spots to the left and right of the sun that can create a halo effect. Caused by ice crystals in the atmosphere, several people have spotted them this past week. This photo of sun dogs with a sun halo was taken by Shana Vold from Bethany on the Lake in Alexandria.

What is being billed as historic cold, with air temperatures and wind chills dipping to their lowest figures in more than two decades, is forecast to keep temperatures well below zero until Friday.

With wind chills forecast to go as low as -55 Tuesday and even lower Tuesday night, area scholl districts are shutting down and not expected to reopen until Thursday.

Alsexandria announced Monday that it was closing its doors Tuesday and Wednesday, and it was joined by Brandon-Evansville, Osakis, Minnewaska, West Central Area and Parkers Prairie.

In addition, the school districts have called off all of its activities for Tuesday and Wednesday.

Osakis public and parochial schools have taken the additional step of delaying the start of school Thursday morning by two hours.

Other closings announced for Tuesday and Wednesday include Alexandria Technical & Community College, the Alexandria Senior Center, Meals on Wheels and all classes, programs and child care at the Alexandria YMCA.

The National Weather Service has issued a wind chill warning from 6 a.m. Tuesday through noon Thursday, stating that "this is a life-threatening situation for those spending any prolonged period outdoors without proper clothing."

The weather service is calling for temperatures to fall during the day Tuesday, to around -25 by 4 p.m. Factor in a northwest wind of 15-25 mph with gusts as high as 35 mph and wind chill values are expected to reach as low as -56.

Tuesday night's low is predicted to be -34, with northwest winds continuing to howl at 15-20 mph and gusts as high to 35 mph, creating wind chill values as low as -64.

Despite the sun being out Wednesday, the high is only anticipated to get near -21, with wind chills in the -63 range. Wednesday night's low will fall to -33, and the temperature is expected toremain below zero on Thursday, with a high of -6 and low of -11.