After five seconds outside, it should start to sink in — this is no Palm Beach.
With temperatures dipping down into the mid-20s below zero Thursday night and into this morning and highs today expected to be around minus 7 degrees, weather experts are recommending people take extreme caution when going outside.
The low temperatures also have gas companies taking precautions and predicting near-record usage of natural gas for heating.
The cold weather also had city crews scrambling to fix a water main leak Thursday before it could create a hazard.
The National Weather Service in Great Falls predicted temperatures around minus 10 to minus 5 degrees today with fairly calm wind speeds of 4 to 5 mph.
"Even on short trips, be prepared for something to go wrong," said Chris Zelzer, meteorologist at the NWS. "Exposed flesh can be frozen quite quickly."
Though windchill probably wouldn't be much of a factor today, Zelzer said, it's still important to dress warmly and take precautions.
"It's still going to be cold, that's for sure," he said.
Mark Frahm, utility systems supervisor for the City of Great Falls, said city crews were working quickly Thursday to fix a leaking water main at the intersection of 30th Avenue Northeast and Division Road. The leak was not caused by the cold weather, he said.
"The cold really hasn't caused any leaks at this time," he said. "It hasn't been cold long enough. No matter how minor a leak might be, it causes such a mess with the freezing conditions and creates a hazard for the traveling public."
Frahm said city crews always stay prepared for cold conditions during the winter months.
"We have our equipment winterized and are ready to go at any time," he said.
John Allen, senior vice-president of Energy West, said the company is expecting high use of natural gas for heating this week.
Allen said it is estimated that Energy West customers in Great Falls will use 35 million MMBTUs Thursday and today. MMBTU, or million British thermal units, is a measure used by the utility company. The peak use of natural gas in one day was 41 million MMBTUs.
NorthWestern Energy, which owns the pipeline that pumps natural gas into Great Falls, has issued a system constraint alert for natural gas companies, Allen said. This means shippers must deliver the amount of gas they expect customers to use.
Normally, companies can ship 10 percent over or under that amount, Allen said.
"The pipeline us gearing up for a fairly significant event," Allen said.
The second-warmest January on record has put consumption of natural gas down, and Energy West has more gas stored than it anticipated, Allen said.
However, the full effect of this week's cold snap won't be known until next week's billing cycle, he said.