Local residents endured bone-chilling temperatures earlier this week, with temperatures dropping into the double digits below zero.
According to the National Weather Service, wind chills reached minus 50 degrees on Monday and Tuesday in east central Wisconsin.
The brutally cold conditions made it dangerous for anyone to spend more than a few minutes outdoors. Frostbite could occur within five minutes to exposed skin.
Temperatures began slowly rising Tuesday afternoon, with forecasts predicting wind chills between minus 20 degrees and minus 35 degrees until Wednesday afternoon.
By Friday, temperatures could reach the mid-30s, although there is a 50 percent chance of snow that day.
The cold conditions led to school and daycare closings throughout the area.
On Monday and Tuesday, all schools in Waupaca County were closed and all school activities were cancelled.
All seven Waupaca County senior nutrition sites were closed on Monday and Tuesday, as were the Waupaca County Industries in Manawa and the Iola Fitness and Aquatic Center.
Most public libraries were closed Monday and re-opened on Tuesday.
Area groups cancelled their meetings scheduled for Monday evenings.
Even several businesses closed Monday, including H & H Recycling and Heckey’s Computers in Waupaca and Too-Dars Diner in Iola.
Scott Neumann, owner of Neumann’s Piggly Wiggly, decided to close his grocery store at 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 6 instead of the usual 11 p.m., for the safety of his employees.
Last weekend, he tried to get in touch with the owners of other Piggly Wiggly grocery stores to see what they were doing. That was after hearing about Roundy’s decision to close all Pick ‘n Save stores at 8 p.m. Monday.
“I am a franchise store,” he said, meaning he may make his own such decisions.
All corporate Piggly Wiggly grocery stores in the Midwest closed early on Monday, Neumann said.
Neumann remembers only one other time that the local Piggly Wiggly closed early. He believes it was in December 2008 when there was a blizzard.
Last Friday and Saturday, his store was busy as customers stocked up on staples, including bread and milk. Sales were up on both days compared to a year ago and then down on Sunday and Monday, when the cold set in and people stayed home.