The Punishing Cold From the Canadian Border to the Florida Keys

Arctic air and snow across 2100 miles has made bearing the cold very difficult, even indoors.
3:00 | 01/07/14

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Transcript for The Punishing Cold From the Canadian Border to the Florida Keys
for the ages, the ice ages, the coldest day yet in this polar freeze. And the map from space says it all. A white, bone-chilling blanket over most of the united states. Stretching 2,500 miles from the canadian border to the florida keys. Tonight, we want to bring you the big picture. Who has been the coldest the longest? When will it end? And who had the toughest day? Our extreme weather team has fanned out across this nation tonight in this freezing cold. And abc's meteorologist ginger zee starts us off. Ginger? Reporter: You know, diane, we've all been dealing with this relentless cold. We've all known that from the trenches out here. But if you add some snow, and I'm talking two feet of snow, and wild winds, and this is what you get, some of the worst in the country. Inside the blinding blizzard, 50-mile-per-hour wind gusts. And 24, the number of inches of snow falling in erie county, new york, in the past 24 hours. They are expecting up to five feet by the end of the week. It is the snowiest place in america today. Here in the town of hamburg, there are drifts that are actually above my knee. Reporter: But as we all kno the major headline is the ridiculous cold. Very cold. Very cold. Reporter: As 16 states saw windchills of 40 below or worse. And then, there's this astonishing number. 61, the number of hours minneapolis, minnesota, spent below zero. Not below freezing. Below zero. And here's a familiar site. So many americans doing the perilous plunge. 51. That's the number of degrees new york city fell in 23 hours, bottoming out at a record 4 below zero this morning. And it's not just a northern issue. If you are in fourth grade, this was the coldest day of your life in parts of the south. 6. That was the record-breaking low temperature in atlanta this morning. This is not the coldest it has ever been, nor is it the longest it has been this cold for anyone in the u.S. But in wisconsin, one resort has deemed it too cold to ski. And in kentucky, this prisoner himself in because, it was just too cold. So, everybody hold on because it is almost over. Let me show you a graphic. And I want you to pick out your state and watch as the warmer -- and I say that really tenderly because it is relatively warmer air -- takes over. This is thursday. THE 50s ALONG THE GULF COAST, Back into parts of florida that haven't seen it. THE 40s RIGHT THERE. AND THEN, THE 30s, MIXING UP AND Going into new york city. By the end of the week, we'll SEE THE 40s RETURN RIGHT HERE IN New york. A lot of places going to get to what they should feel like and in some spots, above average. Diane? So good to see it on the retreat. Thank you, ginger. As we know, from all across this country, so many survivor stories streaming in about pipes bursting, houses without heat. Abc's ryan owens shows us what happens when it's below freezing in your living room. That's got ice on the back of it. There's 31 right there. Reporter: With every hour, john bandy is counting every degree. That's 39. Reporter: On every wall of his indianapolis home. Reporter: His laser thermometer has had nothing but bad news since sunday when he and thousands of others here lost power. I did spend one night here. And then, attempted to spend last night here. It just got too cold. Reporter: John came back today to fill his bathtubs with hot water to prevent his pipes from bursting. Pipe bursts have been a problem. From this starbucks in atlanta, to this evacuated nursing home in maryland. They are among the millions just trying to survive this bitter blast. We're feeling all crammed in here. Reporter: More than 500 people spent 14 hours stranded on 3 amtrak trains stuck in a snowbank in rural illinois. They had power but limited food. And the bathroom situation, less than ideal. They were finally bussed to chicago. I'm exhausted. And I haven't had much to eat. Reporter: Surviving this storm has a whole new meaning for this young mother. She gave birth to her first child all by herself. At home. When no one could get to her. Her due date was not until THE 21st. I think she wanted to see the blizzard. She didn't want to miss out. Reporter: Although millions of adults wish they could have missed the last few days, especially those like john bandy, who, tonight, are still shivering in the dark.

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