Oil crews endure even when wind chill drops to -40

December 5, 2013 • National News

A student on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Omaha, in Omaha, Neb., tries to block out the cold, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, as temperatures registered 13 degrees with a wind chill of -1. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — With the wind chill falling to almost minus 40, Steve Hendershot’s mind was elsewhere Thursday as he and his crew of roustabouts worked a well in North Dakota’s booming oil patch.

On palm trees and beaches, in fact.

“Sometimes you just got to close your eyes and dream of a warm, happy place,” said Hendershot, working near Souris. “I’m doing that today.”

The cold weather sweeping the Plains wasn’t cooling off work in the oil patch, which moves forward in all kinds of weather. But even hardened oilmen were taking note of the dangerous conditions that were expected to keep daily highs below zero until Sunday.

A powerful winter storm that slammed much of the nation kept intensifying Thursday, draping many communities in skin-stinging cold. The system dumped 1 to 2 feet of snow in parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin, forcing school closures and temporary power outages and delighting skiers who hit the slopes despite temperatures in the single digits.

The south-central U.S. braced for the next blow, expected to come Friday in the form of sleet and ice that could imperil millions unaccustomed to the treacherous combination of moisture and bitter cold.

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