A Canadian air mass arrived in the Upper Midwest last weekend and dived into portions of the country's northern tier.
Commuters in Minneapolis were anticipating temperatures of minus-10 degrees Fahrenheit, CNN reported Thursday.
A frozen banana made for a fruity hammer to drive a nail, a television reporter in North Dakota demonstrated, while in Grand Forks the wind chill was -33.
In the northern Maine town of Presque Isle, the thermometer recorded 24 below zero.
Exposure to the sub-freezing temperatures left at least three people dead in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois, authorities said.
Firefighters battling a stubborn warehouse fire in Chicago were hampered by water from their hoses freezing to the outside of the brick building.
Wind chill advisories were in effect from the Dakotas to Maine, the National Weather Service said.
International Falls, Minn., which promotes itself as the nation's icebox, reached -33 degrees overnight and temperatures were expected to drop to -38 by dawn Friday, AccuWeather.com reported.
Duluth, Minn., a port city on the north shore of Lake Superior, recorded 21 degrees below zero overnight, while Minneapolis had a low of -13.
Forecasters said the cold weather could be accompanied by several inches of snow in parts of Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin, and snowfall was expected as far east as New York and as far south as Virginia Friday.
In New Hampshire's White Mountains, Wildcat Mountain Ski Area near Jackson said it would remain closed for a second day as bitter-cold temperatures and high wind warnings were forecast to create unsafe conditions. The ski center predicted a wind chill of minus 48 degrees.