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The Rev. John Bourbea and a group of 60 children from St. Mary’s Academy in St. Marys, Kan., traveled 14 hours to northern Minnesota to vacation during their winter break. They picked a good day for cold weather Thursday, with a recorded 37 below temperature in Bemidji. (JILLIAN GANDSEY/BEMIDJI PIONEER)

Think it's freezing here? Head up north

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BEMIDJI — If Bemidji residents felt it in their bones that Thursday must have been a day for the record books, they’d be right.

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Thursday’s 37 below made it the coldest day in Bemidji since the thermometer hit 40 below in late January 2011, according to data from WDAY meteorologist Aaron White in Fargo, N.D.

And if Bemidjians feel as though they’ve been dealing with this cold longer than usual, they’d be right on that account, too. According to AccuWeather.com, a majority of days in December were significantly colder than average. The coldest recorded temperature was 32 below.

So, when is the region going to get out of this cold?

“That’s a good question,” White said. “Usually these types of patterns don’t last very long, so I’m thinking ... by maybe the last half of January or maybe the last quarter of it, we might get into a warmer period.”

Until then, White said, expect more of the same.

“Right now, it looks like we’re going to stay in this northwest flow pattern for at least the next 10 to 14 days,” he said.

So Bemidjians can plan for more days like Thursday, which was so cold it forced schools to close in part because many of the buses, although plugged in overnight, refused to start in the morning.

“This winter’s been pretty rough on us already,” said James Hess, superintendent of Bemidji Area Schools. “It’s been difficult.”

Bemidji wasn’t the only place where school was called off Thursday.

Classes were canceled in the “Icebox of the Nation” — International Falls —where the morning low was 42 below zero. That’s a record for the date in International Falls; the old record for Jan. 2 was 37 below, set in 2010.

Although it may seem like it, El Nino, or irregular weather patterns caused by abnormal Pacific Ocean temperatures, actually isn’t to blame. Right now on the scale from El Nino to La Nina, things are in the “neutral” position, White said.

“It can go either way still,” he said.

Rather, White said the cold is a result of a change in the jet stream running across North America.

“We’ve had a northwest flow, so … that’s allowing all of this cold air to pool up in Canada and then just come down,” he said. “The eastern half of North Dakota and then most of Minnesota is kind of getting all that cold air, and it doesn’t really go much farther south.”

Fellow WDAY meteorologist Daryl Ritchison said the fabled “January thaw” probably isn’t going to happen in the region.

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