Dangerously Cold Polar Air Grips Midwest, Makes way for East, South

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) A dangerously cold blast of polar air is gripping the Midwest and pushing toward the East and South this evening.

Many people across the nation's midsection have gone into virtual hibernation, while those venturing out have had to pull hoods and scarves tight to protect exposed skin from nearly instant frostbite. In downtown Minneapolis temperatures reached 23 below, with wind chills of minus 48. One man out doing errands in the city says it's not cold, but "painful."

Forecasters said some 187 million people could feel the effects of the "polar vortex" by the time it spreads across the country tonight and tomorrow.

Chicago set a record low for today's date at minus 16, while wind chills across the Midwest were 40 below and colder. Records also fell in Oklahoma, Texas and Indiana, while forecasters say highs are not expected to exceed single digits expected in Georgia and Alabama