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Rochester warming shelter open 24/7 through Thursday as bone-chilling cold moves in

Rochester warming shelter open 24/7 through Thursday as bone-chilling cold moves in

The Rochester Salvation Army, with support from local businesses and volunteers, will be open these next couple of days to serve as a shelter for individuals needing to escape the cold.

The shelter, located at 20 First Avenue NE, will remain open 24/7 tonight through Thursday. The forecast calls for excruciating wind chills — perhaps down to 50-60 below — to paralyze the area the next 48 hours.

The wind values are expected to be so low that frostbite could occur in as little as five minutes in the outside air. In an announcement from City Hall, Administrator Steve Rymer stressed the importance of putting safety first.

“The expected temperatures are dangerously cold,” said Rymer. “By limiting your exposure, you also help our public safety teammates limit theirs. This is a great reminder to keep a watchful eye out for neighbors and take extra care for family pets. We encourage our community to use your very best judgment when being outside in these coming days.”

In preparation for the cold wave, a number of local organizations and businesses — from schools and government buildings to restaurants and banks — have announced plans to close on Wednesday. The weather will be so severe that the postal service is suspending delivery across the region.

(Update: The city had said it would be waving fares for anyone wanting to use buses as shelter from the cold. Late Tuesday, however, Rochester Public Transit sent out a release that service had been suspended due to mechanical problems caused by the extreme cold. Crews are now working through the night to address the issues. Early morning service Wednesday will likely be limited to direct routes servicing park and ride lots, though RPT plans to begin expanding service and routes if its vehicles are performing as expected. Updates will be posted at

In the meantime, local businesses are stepping up to help. The restaurant Porch is offering free meals to its Fourth Street neighbors at Rochester Police. Nearby, the People’s Food Co-op is working with Pasquale’s Pizzeria and the Rochester Fire Department to deliver soup to area shelters.

“We partnered [with Pasquale] to provide ingredients for a warm soup to be provided to local warming shelters, because the Co-op, like Paquale's and many other locally owned businesses, know that taking pride in your local community means helping  your community when in need,” the Co-op’s Brad Smith told us late Tuesday.

The National Weather Service calls the arctic air moving into the area “dangerous” and “life threatening.” In a Facebook post Tuesday, forecasters out of nearby La Crosse, Wis. advised: “Take this seriously!”

This cold snap has the chance to be one of the worst in recent history. According to the NWS, wind chills dropped below -60 twice in 1982 and ‘83, making those the two lowest values on record. More recently, in 1996, wind chills dropped to a low of -57 on a frigid February morning.

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Wind chills Wednesday morning were among the worst in recorded history

Wind chills Wednesday morning were among the worst in recorded history

Weather-related announcements

Weather-related announcements