Arctic Blast to Set Record Low Temperatures, Create 'Dangerous Situation'

Wind chills are forecasted to reach 47 below zero in parts of the Midwest.

ByABC News
January 6, 2014, 4:20 AM

Jan. 6, 2013— -- It's January and it's supposed to be cold, but temperatures plunging below zero and are expected to set records across the country as tens of millions of Americans are trapped in a deep freeze.

While the East Coast is enjoying morning temperatures up to 15 degrees above normal, the Arctic plunge is expected to reach the area by later today. The deep freeze will continue into Tuesday when every state in the lower 48 will endure sub-freezing temperatures.

Minnesota is expecting to see temperatures plunge 25 to 35 degrees below zero today, which has prompted Gov. Mark Dayton to cancel schools statewide. To put that in perspective, Anchorage, Alaska, will reach a high of 34 and a low of 28 degrees today.

But the wind chill in Minneapolis will make it feel like it's 47 below zero. The National Weather Service in Minneapolis classifies their wind chill warning as a "particularly dangerous situation." It hasn't been this cold for almost two decades in many parts of the country.

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Officials in major cities, including Chicago, St. Louis and Milwaukee have also canceled school for today.

Officials in Chicago are urging people to stay home as the thermometer will plunge to 15 below zero with wind chills of 30 to 50 degrees below zero possible.

"Below zero temperatures are expected through Tuesday. These are extremely dangerous conditions and we strongly urge people to heed the warnings and take the necessary precautions to stay safe," Chicago Emergency Management Director Gary Schenkel said Sunday.

It's not just schools that will be closed today in Chicago. Museums, libraries, zoos and even visitation at the Cook County jail are being suspended.

Driving conditions are so bad in Indianapolis, Mayor Greg Ballard upgraded the city's travel emergency level to "red," making it illegal for anyone to drive except for emergencies or seeking shelter.

Deep Cold in the Deep South

The snow is winding down in the Midwest today as the system moves east. Rain will fall from Florida to Maine, but as temperatures drop, the precipitation will end with a quick hit of snow as far south as Georgia. All snow accumulations will be light, with the exception of the lake-effect snow.

It has been a devastating few days for air travel as families head home from their holiday vacations. More than 2,300 flights are canceled throughout the country and thousands more delayed as of 6:30 a.m. ET, according to This follows more than 3,000 cancelations Sunday, mostly at Chicago O'Hare International Airport. The National Weather Service said the snowfall at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport totaled more than 11 inches as of 6 p.m. Sunday.

St. Louis Sunday set a daily snow record with 10.6 inches of snow, quadrupling their old record.

In Wisconsin, it was 5 degrees at kickoff Sunday afternoon inside sold-out Lambeau Field for a playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers. The dangerous, icebox conditions made it one of the coldest games in NFL history.

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A northwest wind made it feel like minus 10 as teams huddled under blankets on the bench while 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and a few other players decided to go sleeveless in the frigid temperatures.

"I've played in cold-weather games before," Kaepernick said. "I feel like it's more mental than anything."

Officials brought in 70,000 hand warmers and gave out more than 35,000 free cups of hot chocolate to help keep shivering fans warms.

But for Packers' fans, the loss to the 49ers in the closing seconds of the game probably hurt more than the bone-chilling temperatures.

ABC News' Samantha Wnek, ABC News Radio and The Associated Press contributed to this report.