Brrrrr! Arctic blast brings January-like temperatures to much of country

Winter starts early for some states 2:45

A fierce arctic blast swept from the Midwest to Maine early Tuesday, lashing a long arm of the U.S. with freezing temperatures and blanketing some cities in snow and sleet, meteorologists said.

The strong cold front sent temperatures plunging across the East Coast and Gulf Coast as the forecast showed January-low lows in the single digits and teens in the Great Plains and the Upper Midwest and into the 20s from Texas to the mid-Atlantic states, the National Weather Service said.

Pablo Avila clears snow from a table in Millennium Park on Nov. 11, in Chicago, Ill. The snowfall was the first of the season for the city. Scott Olson / Getty Images

Even the Southeast is expected to see unseasonable low temperatures that could hit the teens and low 20s.

In all, temperatures across nearly a third of the country were expected to be 10 to 20 degrees below normal temperatures for this time of year.

“If you haven’t gotten your winter coat out down here it’s time to do so,” said Tom Niziol, a winter weather expert at the Weather Channel, directing his remarks to southerners.

Following the cold front is a light band of clouds and rain that could turn to snow in some portions of the region.

Parts of the Great Lakes, Ohio Valley, the Appalachians, upstate New York and northern New England could see some light snowfall early Tuesday, according to Weather Channel meteorologists.

A weather advisory was issued for parts of the Ohio River Valley.

However, Weather Channel meteorologist Chis Dolce sent a message to kids: "No snow day" was likely on Tuesday.

He added: "While this time of year is notorious for major Great Lakes snowstorms, that's not what we're forecasting with this moisture-starved Arctic cold front."

A dusting of snow was possible in New Jersey and some of New York’s northern suburbs into Tuesday morning, and could add to the frustration of the morning commute, NBCNewYork reported.

Light snow could stick to grassy areas and the tops of cars but was not forecast to accumulate on the roads and highways.

The worst of the weather system could come during the morning rush hours on Tuesday in Chicago and New York, severely reducing the visibility for some commuters.

NBC News' Daniel Arkin contributed to this report.