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Cold wave grips much of United States

WASHINGTON, Jan 2, 2018 (BSS/XINHUA) - From midwest to northeast, a numbing cold wave has gripped much of the United States, leading to at least three deaths as the year 2018 began Monday.

Dangerously low temperatures enveloped eight Midwest states including parts of Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Nebraska along with nearly all of Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota, said the U.S. National Weather Service.

In Omaha, Nebraska, a temperature of 15 below zero degrees Fahrenheit (- 26 degrees Celsius) was recorded before midnight Sunday, breaking the lowest record dating back to 1884, and the temperature was still dropping early New Year's Day.

It was even colder early Monday in Des Moines, Iowa, at 20 below zero degrees Fahrenheit (-29 degrees Celsius) and wind chill dipping to 31 below zero degrees Fahrenheit (-35 degrees Celsius). Des Moines city officials had closed a downtown outdoor ice skating plaza and said it will not reopen until the city emerges from sub-zero temperatures.

Bitterly cold temperatures are also spreading across the Deep South, a region more accustomed to brief bursts of arctic air than night after night of sub-zero temperatures. Frozen pipes and dead car batteries were concerns from Louisiana to Georgia as overnight temperatures in the teens were predicted across the region by Monday night.

Local media reported that a homeless man was found frozen to death on the front porch of a home in Charleston, West Virginia on Sunday afternoon.

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's office said two bodies found on Sunday showed signs of hypothermia. The wind chill was reported to be about 9 below zero degrees Fahrenheit (-23 degrees Celsius) on Sunday noon.

In Indianapolis, a woman was found in critical condition after she had been confused in the snow and ice and turned her vehicle the wrong direction, driving on a retention pond before her vehicle fell through the ice, said local media. She managed to make an emergency call but the phone went dead when the ice cracked.

There is no light at the end of the snow tunnel for much of the United States. Although it will get a few degrees warmer in the coming days, temperatures are expected to drop again late in the week, according to CNN meteorologists.