CNN  — 

Nearly 200 million Americans woke up Monday to temperatures below freezing, and even colder air could be on the way by this Valentine’s Day weekend.

“This first push of arctic air is bringing dangerous cold but is mostly confined across the northern tier of states,” says CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen. “This next round of cold air for this coming weekend looks even more intense and will dive south through much of the Plains into Texas and likely bring dozens of records.”

Check out how brutal the cold will be where you live

The early week cold air will be locked up across the northern half of the US, with high temperatures below freezing as far south as Oklahoma. Across northern Minnesota and much of Montana and North Dakota, highs will struggle to climb past zero.

The polar vortex is to blame. This feature that’s normally centered over the North Pole has recently weakened, helping to displace very cold air into the US.

“Latest model guidance continues to show that an arctic air mass will dominate the northern and central portions of the country into this weekend under the influence of a slow-moving polar vortex centered over the Canadian prairies,” the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center (WPC) says.

“Wind chill values well below zero and as low as (minus) 50 degrees could be experienced at times” from Montana through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, says the WPC.

Wind chill alerts are in effect early Monday afternoon for more than 5 million people. In some cases, that’s so cold, frostbite can occur in just five minutes for those not properly dressed.

In Minneapolis, the high temperature Sunday only reached minus 3 degrees. The last time the high temperature was that cold was more than two years ago, in January 2019. Temperatures there rise back to the teens midweek before dropping again to around zero this weekend.

Fargo, North Dakota, is another city that hasn’t witnessed this kind of cold in years. The high yesterday was minus 8. It hasn’t been that cold since 2019, when the high was only 10 below. Highs should not be as low as this past weekend but will hover around the zero-degree mark this week.

Meanwhile, across the Southern states, temperatures will be above average, and in some cases, up to 20 degrees above the normal temperature for this time of year through Wednesday or Thursday.

But that will change as the week progresses.

Cold air will hit every continental US state

The cold air will gradually expand southward. By the weekend, every state in the Lower 48 should experience below-average temperatures. The only area that may still be on the warmer side of normal is South Florida.

temp departure

A very slow-moving cold front draped across the Southern Plains will serve as the boundary between high temperatures in the 30s and 40s across North Texas and 70s and 80s across central and southern Texas through mid-week.