The deep freeze that hit earlier this month has returned, bringing with it wind chills ranging from the negative teens to 40s, cancelations of schools, trains, flights and signs of resignation from parents forced to bring kids to work and residents who are tired of bundling up.
"We had two (employees) call in because they couldn't come to work because of the school closings and another called in sick," said Kristelle Brister, the manager of a downtown Chicago Starbucks who had to bring her 9-year-old son into the store because his school was closed. "It's hard."
A persistent weather pattern that's driving Arctic air south was forecast to force temperatures to plummet for about 2 1/2 days, starting overnight Sunday. Actual temperatures will range from the teens in northern Kentucky to double-digits below zero in Minnesota, but even colder wind chills were expected - minus 43 in Minneapolis; minus 18 in Dayton, Ohio; minus 14 in Kansas City, Mo.; and minus 3 in Louisville, Ky.
By sunrise Monday, weather forecasters in Chicago were telling viewers that the high temperature for the day had already come and gone and that the low may reach minus 4 degrees with wind chills at 40 below.
"I'm moving to Alaska where it's warmer," joked Kathy Berg, a 48-year-old medical assistant who arrived by train for her job in downtown Chicago wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt, sweatshirt, polar fleece hoodie, winter coat, knit cap, two scarves and two pair of gloves.
Meanwhile, at Donutville U.S.A. in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, a couple of guys said they weren't going to let a little cold keep them from their morning cruller.
"We're here every day - we never miss," said Angelo Barile, a 72-year-old retired owner of an Italian bakery.
At Chicago's Union Station, several people hoping to take trains early Monday were told there would be no service until the afternoon. Homeless people, looking for places to stay warm, kept a watchful eye for security, knowing if they stayed in one place too long they would be kicked out.
"You have to keep moving around," said Von Khan, 67, who carried big shopping bags in each hand and a backpack slung over his shoulder.
Frigid temperatures are expected to hold into Tuesday. If Chicago makes it to 60 straight hours below zero, it will be the longest stretch since 1983 - when it was below zero for 98 hours - and the third longest in 80 years.
Chicago Public Schools called off Monday's classes for its nearly 400,000 students, as did suburban districts. Earlier this month, when it was below zero for 36 straight hours, CPS closed for two days. And just as earlier this month, when airlines canceled more than a 1,000 flights over a two-day period, by early Monday morning the airlines at the city's two major airports had already canceled more than 500 flights.
In the northern U.S., North Dakota and South Dakota residents dealt with dangerous cold and wind gusts Sunday that reached up to 60 mph - blowing snow to the point where it was nearly impossible to travel in some spots. On Monday, snow drifts kept Interstate 29 closed from Sioux Falls to the Canadian border before reopening in the morning. In Indiana, where 50 mph gusts were recorded early Monday, officials recommended only essential travel in more than half of its counties.
In Windom, southwestern Minnesota, drifting snow and whiteout conditions closed several highways Sunday, stranding about 70 people, including a bus full of hockey players, at a recreation center for the night.
The surprise guests included three dogs.
"You can't very well keep your dogs out in the car," said Greg Warner, manager of the Business Arts and Recreation Center.
And speaking of cars, the bitterly cold weather has been good for business at the Batteries Plus store in northwest Omaha, where employee Scott Miller, 33, said "it's been hard to keep stock in car batteries."
In Michigan, which has in parts experienced its snowiest January on record, expressways closed as snow and subfreezing temperatures played a role in multiple crashes Sunday; at least three people died over the weekend because of weather-related accidents.
Business is far from usual this winter for Alex Alfidi, manager at Leo's Coney Island restaurant in the Detroit suburb of Birmingham. His 24-hour restaurant been getting some carryout patrons, but the casual walk-in customers have stayed away.
"We slowed down big time," said Alfidi, 39. He said he's logged some challenging winters in his 15 years in Michigan.
"This is the biggest one," he said.
Associated Press writers Nelson Lampe in Omaha, Neb.; David Runk in Detroit; James MacPherson and Blake Nicholson in Bismarck, N.D.; Ashley Heher and Erica Hunzinger in Chicago; and Gretchen Ehlke and Dinesh Ramde in Milwaukee contributed to this report.