The National Weather Service has been warning Iowans of “life-threatening” wind chills blowing across the state this week.

The worst conditions are expected late tonight into Wednesday with wind chills of 40-to-50 below zero. Lorrie Mortensen, with Floyd Valley Healthcare in Le Mars, says frost bite can happen very quickly when skin is exposed to this kind of cold.

“It can just be a matter of minutes, particularly if you’re not taking the right kind of precautions and bundling-up appropriately for it,” Mortensen said. “It does not take long at all.” The first symptoms of frost bit involve a “prickly” feeling, followed by numbness.

“From there, you’re going to start seeing redness. It’s your body trying to react and get circulation going,” Mortensen said. “From there, it almost turns into that white color. When it starts to look that kind of pale white, you know you’re starting to get into some danger zones.”

Forecasters predict this will be Iowa’s coldest snap in more than 20 years. In addition to protecting yourself from this extreme cold, Mortensen says pets should remain indoors.

(By Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars)