TODAY   |  February 26, 2014

Deep freeze blankets U.S. as winter wears on

Tens of millions of Americans are battling brutally cold temperatures as the extreme cold now pushes into the Deep South and turns record-breaking. Temperatures dropped to the single digits across much of the Midwest. NBC’s Dylan Dreyer reports.

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>>> another big story this morning, the latest blast of arctic air thanks to the polar vortex , and it is expanding. single digits this morning across much of the midwest , near or below freezing well into the south. we're going to get al's forecast in a moment, but first, dylan dreyer in chicago along the frozen shore of lake michigan . good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning, savannah. extremely frozen, millions are waking up to absolutely freezing temperatures again this morning. the windchill right here in chicago is minus 14 degrees. and this arctic air blasting across much of the country. and you know, i spent most of the winter out in this, but i went to quite an extreme to finally try to embrace it.

>> winter, 2014 , just won't quit.

>> i've never ever seen the roads this bad.

>> in minnesota, commuter chaos caused by dozens of rollovers and spinouts. throughout much of the midwest , the problem is ice jams and the potential for serious flooding once winter loosens its grip. in northwest ohio , there are dozens of rivers clogged with ice. there's no escaping the subzero temperatures for electrical crews and others forced to work outdoors. with this latest arctic blast , some folks find if you can't escape it, you might as well enjoy it. kids both big and little take to the ice to enjoy the outdoors in downtown chicago . and in lake michigan , the city's annual polar plunge is set for sunday despite frigid temps and frozen waters. mike plans to do it again for the seventh time. his advice for out of towners like me --

>> just jump in and get out as quick as possible.

>> so we're geared up and ready to go. here we go! maybe sunday.

>> reporter: i was literally this close to jumping in to lake beg michigan. but look at it, it's frozen solid. they are going to get bulldozers in here to clear this out. it benefits special olympics chicago . and our own jimmy fallon has agreed to take the plunge. on sunday morning, it's going to be about 15 degrees. the water temperature, a balmy 30 degrees. that sounds kind of temp iting, huh?

>> watch out, there's a polar bear behind you. thank you so much. and if that's not bad enough. all right, we've got freezing cold, windchill warnings, advisories, watches from the dakotas all the way into ohio. look at these winds gusting of over 30 miles per hour. and look at your temperatures with the windchills. minneapolis, feels like 23 below, 2 below in kansas city , chicago , 15 below, cleveland, 3 below, and look at these overnight lows. air temperatures tomorrow morning . we're at minneapolis, minus 13, 18 in kansas city , bismarck, 15, and it's even colder on friday making its way into the great lakes, 7 in cleveland, 4 in indianapolis. here in the northeast and the southeast, look at these temperatures dropping back thursday morning, it's only 26 in atlanta, mobile, 32 degrees, and then as we move on into friday morning, it's 27 in atlanta, into the northeast, it's 11 in new york city . saranac lake , 6 below, 8 in bangor. guess what, a reinforcing shot of cold air on saturday. and the big storm system moving into the west coast tonight makes its way across the country and maybe another big storm for us from the midwest into the northeast sunday into monday.

>> unsubscribe, al.