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Published December 05, 2013, 10:11 AM

Extreme cold blankets Dakotas after days of snow

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Some organizations in the Dakotas are canceling holiday events as bitter cold settles over the region, and one city has concluded it's even too cold for ice skating.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Some organizations in the Dakotas are canceling holiday events as bitter cold settles over the region, and one city has concluded it's even too cold for ice skating.

A "Christmas at the Zoo" fundraising event in the North Dakota city of Minot and "Parade of Lights" events in the South Dakota cities of Yankton and Sturgis are among those being called off as dangerous cold blankets the region into next week. Many schools have announced late starts, and officials in Rapid City have shut down an outdoor ice rink in the South Dakota city.

The National Weather Service has posted advisories in the two states into the weekend for wind chills as low as 40 degrees below zero. Temperatures that cold can quickly freeze exposed skin and cause hypothermia.

It can lead to other problems as well, such as frozen water pipes in homes. The weather service also is keeping an eye on possible rapid rises on the Missouri River caused by the formation of ice. Forecasters issued a statement Wednesday encouraging people to report any "unusual" water levels.

"We're not expecting problems with the river, but we want people to be aware that the risk is a little elevated as we go through the development of ice cover on the river," hydrologist Allen Schlag told The Bismarck Tribune.

Schlag also said the ice conditions will not be good for recreational activities such as ice fishing.

"No ice is safe, and river ice is downright dangerous," he said.

The cold comes on the heels of heavy snowfall, including record amounts in Huron, S.D., and Grand Forks, N.D. on Wednesday. The 7.3 inches measured at the Grand Forks airport broke the city's Dec. 4, 2007, record, and Huron's 3 inches broke that city's 28-year-old record for the date.

Weather service meteorologist Jeff Schild told The Rapid City Journal that more longstanding weather records might fall in the coming days — not for snow but for low temperatures.

"These are some pretty old records that could get broken," he said.

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