Record Cold From Maine to Florida

A blanket of arctic air has temperatures dropping across the nation.
3:18 | 01/22/13

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Transcript for Record Cold From Maine to Florida
And we begin with the big chill. 133 million americans in this together. All day, these pictures were streaming into our news room. Wisconsin, chicago, new york. And washington, d.C. All of us apparently doing anything we could to stay warm. Take a look at that. In fact, it was so cold today, the great lakes had a windchill of minus 40, which feels colder than the north pole. Abc's senior weather editor sam champion is out in frigid new york tonight. Sam? Reporter: Good evening, diane. In central park where it is 19 degrees here and that windchill is right around 6 degrees. But this isn't the only cold place in the country. Eastern third of the country's got chilly temperatures from the great lakes to florida overnight tonight. We've been lucky with milder temperatures in the past few winters, but tonight, this is the real deal. Say hello to polar air. To even the most winter aware, this arctic chill is for real. Nothing you can do to stay warm here. I feel cold, yeah. Very cold. Reporter: From minnesota to florida, more than a dozen states have winter weather advisories, with major cities in the midwest, either near or below zero on tuesday. And that windchill? 50 below zero in maine to 10 below in north carolina. From the midwest to the northeast, it's the coldest air in two years. And for most of the country, it's a sudden and drastic change. In cedar rapids, iowa, a balmy 51 degrees saturday. Less than 48 hours later, it was 2 degrees below zero. A temperature swing of more than 53 degrees. The wind is just ripping. Makes it ten times worse than it should be. Reporter: This was chicago a month ago. Today? You won't see any shorts on the street. Chicago developed below zero for the first time in almost two years. And a frozen lake michigan left even this poor dog stranded. This arctic blast came in so quickly and powerfully it brought blinding snow. In michigan, whiteout conditions. You can barely see in front of you. It's like whiteout. Reporter: If you're working outside like these construction workers, there's a real danger of hypothermia, frostbite and even cold air asthma. Medical experts tell us breathing freezing air can actually trigger lung spasms. I can't feel my nose. Reporter: How cold is it? Maybe too cold to ice skate. Outdoor ice skating rinks in minnesota and wisconsin are being closed due to feerms of frostbite. And maybe even too cold for ice fishing. This fisherman caught these fish live but now, they're frozen solid in the bucket. We just want to remind folks that skin is something to really be careful about in cold air. When you have windchills that are 20 and 30 below, unprotected skin is freeze in about ten minutes, diane. But we found something online and I want to show it to you. I've seen a lot of odd experiments, but I have never seen this one. A guy, and I believe this is in minnesota, took a shot of a wet t-shirt, set it out for six minutes and when he came back, it's frozen solid. You can turn it sideways like a piece of cardboard, diane. Unbelievable. And how much time? Reporter: In about six minutes, he said. Oh, wow. It is so cold out there. Thank you, sam champion.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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