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Did you have to get us back like that, Mother Nature?

After some pretty unseasonably warm weather late last year, winter is kicking in the door with some extremely cold air and sending North America into complete disbelief and a new obsession over long johns.

Thanks to the coldest arctic outbreak in the last 20 years (aka the polar vortex), most of the country is experiencing wind chills as low as 40 below.

In short, it’s colder than Alaska. Literally. On Tuesday, temperatures in Atlanta reached an alarming low, clocking in at just a few degrees below than the snowy state.

In fact, as many as 187 million Americans — more than half the nation’s population — live in regions submerged under the rare “polar vortex” so broad that every state except Hawaii can expect some freezing temperatures.

“These are some temperatures that we haven’t seen in decades,” said Jen Carfagna, a forecaster for The Weather Channel.

And get this — human flesh will freeze in less than five minutes at these temperatures unless you are properly covered, the weather service warned. So if you can imagine, the cold temperatures are snarling travel plans and every day life for many Americans.

In northern Minnesota on Monday, the towns of Embarrass, Babbitt and Brimson all reached minus-40 — and that was the real air temperature, not the wind chill.

Gov. Mark Dayton ordered schools across the state closed — the first time that has happened in 17 years.

NBC’s Anne Thompson reports from John F. Kennedy International Airport, where JetBlue says it won’t fly again in New York or Boston until Tuesday afternoon.

And travel was so snarled by the crippling weather that JetBlue Airways took the extraordinary step of grounding flights at four of the nation’s busiest airportsMonday — the three major New York airports and Boston’s Logan International.

“We regret the impact to our customers,” said the airline, which said it hoped to be operational by 3 p.m. ET Tuesday.

By 10:30 p.m. ET, more than 4,500 flights into and out of U.S. airports had been canceled Monday — more than 1,600 of them at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport alone. Almost 300 had been canceled at Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport.

Which means we all just need to stay in the house, if at all possible. Stay warm out there.


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