Record-Breaking Cold So Bad Even Penguins Forced Inside

NOAA's GOES-East satellite /
NOAA's GOES-East satellite /

The record-breaking cold blanketing the United States has been so harsh that the penguins in the National Aviary in Pittsburgh ended up being ushered indoors to escape the numbing cold.

Penguins weren’t the only ones affected by the deep freeze. Schools were closed, homeless shelters were filled, and traffic ground to a halt in cities all across the upper half of the U.S.

Temperatures dipped everywhere this week, but the coldest spot in the country was Estcourt Station, Maine, which reached temperatures of minus 38 degrees F (minus 39°C).

The Arctic blast forced the closure of schools in many of the nation’s big cities including the Chicago Public Schools and 125 other school districts in the Chicago area.

“The safety and well-being of our students comes first,” CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said earlier this week. “The frigid temperatures and winds make a dangerous combination, and it is in the best interest of our students to cancel classes.”

But chilly temps were everywhere. There was even snow in Jacksonville, Florida. Additionally, Jackson, Kentucky set a record with minus one degree. Some errant snowflakes were even seen on the beaches of South Carolina.

The Arctic blast moved down into North Texas, as well, with Dallas-Fort Worth seeing temps in the single and double digits on Thursday.

According to, a third surge of Arctic air is now sweeping down through the Northern Plains states and will reinforce the frigid air over the Midwest and Northeast.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.