The new year was ushered in on a bitterly cold note across much of the country Friday, as the coldest temperatures of the season and strong winds sent wind chill readings plummeting to a dangerous 40 degrees below zero in the upper Midwest.
The National Weather Service warned that such wind chill readings could freeze uncovered flesh in minutes.
"These temperatures are considered well into the danger zone for being exposed," said Paul Merzlock, a meteorologist in Chicago, where the wind chill index dropped to 33 degrees below zero. "The heat loss would be such that exposed areas will freeze in a few minutes at most."
First Subzero Readings
Many Midwestern cities reported their first subzero readings of the season, with temperatures dropping below zero over much of the upper Mississippi Valley and the northern half of the Plains. Strong gusty winds drove wind chills throughout the region down between 30 below to near 45 below.
A record low of 31 below was set at Alamosa, Colo., breaking the old mark for the date of 28 below, set in 1975.