Nightly News   |  January 06, 2014

Brutally Cold Temperatures Send Chills Through US

As the snowy Midwest digs out from the latest storm, wind chills brought 56 degrees below zero in some places. NBC’s Kevin Tibbles reports.

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>>> good evening, every state with the exception of hawaii is forecast to experience freezing temperatures over the next 24 hours . schools in atlanta, georgia, have been cancelled for tomorrow because of the cold. a major airline is going to shut down operations at some big u.s. airports to give its system and its employees a chance to keep up with the cold. and that is just the start of the impact of what the weather folks are calling a polar porti vortex. a large, sprawling system spreading record cold and reaching farther to the south. up north it is possible to live your life in minnesota and never see temperatures this cold. and a lot of folks in nashville thought they would never see 11 degrees. oddly, it is colder in atlanta than it is in parts of maine tonight. we have it all covered and begin with nbc's kevin tibbles in minneapolis, temperatures, 15 below, wind chill , minus 39. kev kevin , good evening.

>> reporter: brian , this is the coldest weather many parts of this country have seen in 20 years. and even though the hearty folks here in the twin cities are used to sub zero temperatures, this could be a cold snap for the weather books. it is a brutal, biting and dangerous cold.

>> stay home, don't come out. this is very, very, very cold.

>> reporter: a frigid combination of arctic air and high winds brought wind chills of minus 56 degrees in places. schools in parts of 13 midwest states shut to keep students home and safe. many say they will remain closed tuesday. all this, as much of the midwest digs out from under several feet of snow. chicago has had twice as much snow to date than it usually gets. here, commuter chaos, with frozen switches stopping trains in their tracks. in indiana, the weather responsible for dozens of pile-ups. today, a long line of traffic sat for hours waiting for the re-opening of i-65. as ice and cold in the rock and hole hall of fame did not open, neither did many ski areas , they had decided it was too dangerous and halted the lifts. overnight, in st. paul, the firefighters braved minus 20 degree temperatures fighting a house fire. today, this firefighter suits up in the heavy gear he and others wear to reduce the risk of frost bite and hypothermia. what is your main concern?

>> look out for one another, work together as a team.

>> reporter: even the southern states are very cold, mississippi has had 68 hours of freezing temperatures, elsewhere, covered in snow.

>> everybody is worried about the dropping temperatures.

>> reporter: and a particularly difficult time for the homeless.

>> not very big.

>> reporter: this couple was found living next to the mississippi river , in minus 24 degree weather.

>> i won't go stay in the shelter if i can't stay with him.

>> reporter: the st. stevens shelter managed to find them a room in a local motel, but only until the latest blast of arctic air passes. and tonight, brian , the cities are forecasting once again the temperatures could drop to about 19 or 20 degrees below zero . and that is dangerously cold. brian ?

>> all right, friend, inside for you, kevin tibbles starting us off from the twin cities ,