The Upper Midwest remains locked in the deepÂ freeze, with bitter temperatures stretching into a fourth day across severalÂ states.
The weather was so cold Tuesday that ChicagoÂ firefighters found their equipment was freezing as they tried to beat back aÂ fire in a warehouse.
The five-alarm fire ripped through aÂ warehouse in Chicago’s south side Tuesday night and below-freezing temperaturesÂ made it difficult for firefighters to hose it down.
The cold snap arrived Saturday night as wavesÂ of Arctic air swept south from Canada, pushing temperatures to dangerous lowsÂ and even leaving a section of the country hardened to winter’s painsÂ reeling.
Authorities suspect exposure has played aÂ role in at least four deaths so far.
‘I am wearing a Snuggie under a top andÂ another jacket over that,’ said Faye Whitbeck, president of the chamber ofÂ commerce in International Falls, Minnesotta, a town near the Canadian borderÂ where the temperature was -30C on Tuesday morning.
The so-called ‘Nation’s Icebox’Â reached aÂ balmy -3C for a high. ‘I pulled out a coat that went right to my ankles thisÂ morning and I wore two scarves,’ Miss Whitbeck added.
The coldest location in the lower 48Â statesÂ Monday was Embarrass, Minnesota, at -36C, according to theÂ National WeatherÂ Service.
Forecasters said late Tuesday that overnightÂ temperatures wouldn’t get that low, but warned it was still frigid.
Temperatures have already or willÂ approachÂ levels not reached in the past two to four years in a number of locations by theÂ middle of the week from the Upper Midwest into theÂ Northeast.
Weather expert Henry Margusity toldÂ AccuWeather: ‘The coldestÂ air mass in North America was sitting just north ofÂ the Great Lakes over central and northern Ontario and western and central QuebecÂ TuesdayÂ morning.’
Temperatures reached below 40C in these areasÂ and dipped below zero from northern New England to much of Michigan and areasÂ near and north ofÂ Chicago.
‘The air just north of the Great Lakes isÂ colder than that over the North Pole,’ Margusity said.
And forecasters warn there’s more to come.Â The cold front will stickÂ around through the weekend from the Upper Midwest toÂ the mid-AtlanticÂ and New England. The bitterly cold air will dissipate by theÂ end of theÂ week and will not move into the Deep South.
Nighttime temperatures around 10 degrees madeÂ it harder for ChicagoÂ firefighters to battle a warehouse blaze described byÂ officials as oneÂ of the largest in recent years. The Chicago Sun-TimesÂ reportedÂ late Tuesday that more than 170 firefightersÂ responded to the five-alarmÂ inferno at an abandoned warehouse on theÂ city’s South Side that took nearlyÂ three hours to get under control.
The Northeast was also feeling the chill fromÂ Ohio to Maine.
In Connecticut, overnight temperatures wereÂ expected to range from 0 toÂ 10 degrees over the next several days, and the windÂ chill could make itÂ feel as cold as -15C in some parts of the state. InÂ Millinocket, Maine, residents awoke to temperatures of -9C.