Record cold gripped the upper Midwest and the Southeast on Thursday, while even colder air was moving into the northern Plains, weather officials said.
Predawn temperatures dropped into the 30s and 40s east of the Mississippi River, with 20-degree readings reported in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and western Kentucky. Lows were in the 30s as far south as northwest Florida.
Record lows were set in at least 29 cities in the Midwest and Southeast, including readings of 22 degrees in Madison, Wis.; 23 in Green Bay, Wis.; 29 in Chicago and Milwaukee; 34 in Birmingham, Ala.; 35 in Chattanooga, Tenn., Huntsville, Ala., and Jackson, Miss., and 38 in Tallahassee, Fla.
A low of 37 in Montgomery, Ala., broke the previous record of 39 degrees, established 98 years ago.
Scrapes Off Frost
At Cairo, Ill., along the Kentucky border, a record low of 29 degrees surpassed the old mark of 38 set in 1921. "It was a light frost on automobiles. I had to do a little scraping," said Marvin Shore, a meteorologist at the Cairo weather office, who drives in from Paducah, Ky., to operate the facility.