Coping with the cold
At 7:51 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29, the temperature on the electronic sign at Dacotah Bank read -11.
Weather services are predicting the temperature at around the same time on Wednesday, Jan. 30, could be -37. Wind will add to the cold as the area is in a wind chill advisory until noon Thursday, Jan. 31. The wind on Jan. 29 is expected to be 20 to 30 mph during the day and night.
It's been a few years since the region has experienced daily highs and lows as cold as this. The cold snap should break on Saturday with predicted highs in the 30s. But for now, it's very, very cold.
At Superior Industries in Morris Brad Zimmel, the vice president of manufacturing, said the extreme cold affects the workforce and the manufacturer's equipment. Superior makes conveyors, pulleys and similar equipment used in industries such as mining..
While equipment such as forklifts and vehicles are brought inside overnight, "during the day they are working outside," Zimmel said. "As long as they stay running they are Ok but once in a while, they still act up or breakdown."
Forklifts and vehicles don't run by themselves, they need to be operated by employees who are also working in the cold. Forklifts have cabs and heaters, Zimmel said.
"We also supply our yard (employees) with adequate clothing. Obviously at 20 and 30 below, eventually the cold comes in through anything. We have employees come inside to warm up," Zimmel said.
Riverview LLP which operates dairies in the area also makes sure employees don't spend too many working hours outdoors, said Brett Boyum, staff veterinarian at Riverview.
Employees check calves housed in outdoor hutches several times a day, Boyum said. Those employees are dressed properly but they also rotate with employees so they do indoor work as well, Boyum said.
Taking care of livestock
Although the calves are outdoors they are in proper shelter, Boyum said.
"The hutches are bedded down with clean sawdust and straw," Boyum said. "The calf can nestledown and insulate itself. It's like an insulated blanket."
The hutches also have doors that are opened only when the calves are fed and watered, Boyum said.
"The calf hutch is made of a plastic that is sort of translucent," Boyum said. When the sun is shining the sun shines through the plastic and provides radiant heat, Boyum said.
The calves also wear a jacket over their main body that helps to keep them warm, Boyum said.
Drivers on U.S. Highway 59 or Minnesota 329 may notice dairy cows or heifers outside this week on West Central Research and Outreach Center property. The state research farm houses its dairy herd and heifers outdoors year-round.
Scientist Brad Heins said the cows are acclimated to the weather. A pasture-type area near Highway 59 has a natural windbreak of trees. On Jan. 28, Heins said about 80 dairy cows housed in an outdoor pen near the farm have a wooden wind break. About 100 cows have access to a three-sided compost barn.
About 150 non-milking heifers or dry cows were in the area with the natural windbreak of trees, Heins said.
Getting meals delivered
Robert Wesen, the Morris meal site cook said on Jan. 29 the plan was to deliver meals to residents in Morris that day. The meal site is also open.
"We don't want people slipping and falling," Wesen said of keeping diners and delivery drivers safe. And he doesn't want drivers out in dangerous conditions.
Wesen said he lets drivers make a decision about whether or not to delivery. Wesen said he will step in and delivery if need be.
"Some of these folks wouldn't eat if we didn't deliver," Wesen said.
The weather can present a challenge so it's important that drivers have safe access and routes for delivery, Wesen said.
"For (some) people we are their only contact, especially on days like today and tomorrow," Wesen said of Jan. 29 and 30.
For a video of snow removal work from Jan. 28, click this link: https://www.stevenscountytimes.com/video/zlDCE5pi