Polar vortex by the numbers: 6 states in US record temperatures lower than South Pole

Records are being shattered and communities are enduring the harshest cold in years as the polar vortex tightens its grip on the midwestern United States.

After the polar vortex plunged southward, temperatures plummeted under 20 below zero F from North Dakota to northern Illinois on Wednesday morning.

Biting winds made the extreme cold more life-threatening as AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures dropped under 50 below zero. Frostbite can occur in mere minutes on exposed skin in these conditions.

Among the deaths from the snow and cold that struck the Midwest was a man found frozen to death in a garage in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, according to the Associated Press.

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Freezing weather caused by polar vortex
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Freezing weather caused by polar vortex
Metra trains go in and out of the Western Avenue Station in subzero temperatures on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019 in Chicago. This is the busiest station with over 300 trains passing through here on weekdays. The tracks are heated with gas-fired switch heaters that help prevent switching problems in extreme weather. Metra spokesperson Meg Reile said, 'They are like giant gas grills.' (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
A pedestrian stops to take a photo by Chicago River, as bitter cold phenomenon called the polar vortex has descended on much of the central and eastern United States, in Chicago, Illinois.
The city skyline is seen from the North Avenue Beach at Lake Michigan, as bitter cold phenomenon called the polar vortex has descended on much of the central and eastern United States, in Chicago, Illinois.
Workers help clear the parking lot at Monocacy commuter rail and bus station January 29, 2019 in Frederick, Maryland.
Commuters wait for the bus on South Pinckney Street in downtown Madison, Wis. as extreme temperatures hit the region.
Commuters drive into downtown Madison, Wis. on East Washington Ave. as extreme temperatures hit the region. 
A man and woman brave the elements during a polar vortex on as they prepare to cross the corner of Main Street and Salem Avenue in Carbondale, Pa.
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The cold has also led to widespread school closures, major travel disruptions and even the suspension of mail service.

New new cold snap Jan 30

Chicago was among the many locations that shattered record lows on Wednesday morning, but it is the magnitude and persistence of the cold that is posing the greatest dangers to the millions of people and animals across the region.

"An entire generation has gone without by without experiencing this type of cold in the Chicago area," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

Before the Arctic outbreak eases later this week, a large swath of the Midwest can endure one to three consecutive days of subzero temperatures.

Much to the relief of residents, the deep freeze will be replaced by a surge of milder air this weekend. Temperatures can dramatically swing 40 to 70 degrees higher than the lowest readings this week.

Cold weather Jan 30

Commuters braves the wind and snow in frigid weather, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

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