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Cali Owings, Published December 27 2013

‘Feels like’ minus 60?

FARGO – Brace yourselves.

Subzero temperatures and high winds could produce wind chills as cold as 60 degrees below zero this weekend – which would feel like a 100-degree drop-off from Friday’s high of around 40 above.

Temperatures Friday climbed above freezing for the first time since Nov. 29, providing sweet relief during one of the region’s coldest Decembers ever.

But the cold will be back with a vengeance starting Saturday afternoon as temperatures drop and winds pick up, according to local meteorologists.

The National Weather Service is monitoring strong winds that may produce hazardous driving conditions and dangerous wind chills Saturday and Sunday.

Those waking up Saturday in Fargo will be greeted with temperatures around 20 degrees, said WDAY meteorologist Daryl Ritchison. By midnight, it could be 10 below.

“We could lose 30 degrees between the time you wake up and midnight,” he said.

Winds in the 25 to 35 miles per hour range Saturday afternoon could create dangerous travel conditions, said Tom Grafenauer with the National Weather Service.

Because of Friday’s melt, much of the snow will refreeze and won’t be picked up by strong gusts of wind. Still, Grafenauer said the winds and a light falling snow could create blizzard conditions in open areas.

The real cold won’t hit until early Sunday morning. Temperatures will hover around 20 below zero and, with the wind, it could easily feel more like 60 below, said WDAY Meteorologist Aaron White.

Generally, White said, he’s forecasting wind chill temperatures throughout the day Sunday in the 40- to 50-below-zero range.

Once temperatures get that low, it only takes about five minutes to get frostbite, White said.

“If they don’t have to go outside, don’t,” he said.

A National Weather Service alert advises dressing in layers, covering all exposed skin and limiting outdoor activity to prevent frostbite and hypothermia. It also advises those traveling to pack a winter sur-vival kit.

White said actual air temperatures will remain below zero through Tues-day, at least.

“With below-zero temps, you don’t need much wind. It’s just going to be cold,” White said.

A few more days of ex-treme cold this month will cap off a colder-than-average December.

“Even by our standards, this is a cold December,” said Ritchison.

Based on his predictions, Ritchison said this Decem-ber will at least crack the top 10 of the region’s coldest Decembers, even though Friday’s warm temperatures skewed the numbers.

In 2014, Red River Valley residents can expect January to follow December’s weather patterns – colder than average, light snows and a few mild days in between.

“The first part of January will be more of the same,” Ritchison said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Cali Owings at (701) 241-5599