— Alabama was colder than Alaska, water fountains froze into ice sculptures in South Carolina and Florida shivered through a brush of Arctic air blast that deadened car batteries in the Northeast and prompted scattered Midwest power outages.
As Southerners awaited an expected weekend thaw, the Northeast persisted under the bitterly cold air from Canada that sent temperatures plunging in some places below minus 30 degrees and left even longtime residents reluctant to venture outdoors.
The low in Knoxville on Friday was 5 degrees, 23 degrees below our normal low for that day. The high was 22, 24 degrees below the normal high, according to the National Weather Service.
The record low for Jan. 16 in Knoxville came in 1972 at 1 and the record high in 1932 at 74.
Quentin Masters braved the chilly weather, making a trip to a Syracuse, N.Y., post office to mail his sister a gift for her birthday Monday.
"It was almost too cold to come down," he said, but he added, "I don't want to be late."
Single-digit temperatures and subzero wind chills were expected in western New York through the weekend, with more seasonable conditions moving in early next week.
To Southerners, who rarely see temperatures so cold, the icebox-like weather was the most jarring. Construction worker Allen Johnson wore a gray beanie, flannel shirt, long johns and boots as he stopped for coffee in Montgomery, Ala., after an overnight low of 22 degrees Friday.
"No matter how bad it is, it could be worse — we could be in Anchorage, Alaska," Johnson said. Actually, the temperature was about 20 degrees warmer in Anchorage on Friday.
Freezing temperatures threatened to kill picturesque Spanish moss hanging from Gulf Coast trees. In Spartanburg, S.C., a hard freeze coated a water fountain in shimmering icicles. And it was too cold to bet on dogs in West Virginia.
In Tennessee, Heather Davis, of NashvillePAW Magazine, watched her photographer unsuccessfully try to coax their cover model, a white poodle named Cotton, to pose outdoors for the animal publication. Cotton, who is up for adoption, ran to the car and didn't want to leave.