CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Record-setting lows started the day Tuesday, and bitter cold temperatures will hang around throught Wednesday.
The arctic blast is easing its grip on much of the U.S., giving way to warmer, but still very chilly temperatures in many places.
Winds are expected to calm Wednesday and the weather's supposed to warm up slightly, a day after record temperatures -- some more than a century-old -- shattered up and down the Eastern Seaboard.
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Alert: Through Thursday mid-morning, the weather will pose a very serious threat to people, pipes, pets and livestock not properly protected.
The coldest air since at least 1996 settled in the Charlotte region Monday night and into this morning.
Temperatures Wednesday morning were not as cold as Tuesday but were in the teens.
In the mountains temperatures are already well below zero. Places like Mount Mitchell and Grandfather Mountain were almost -20° at midnight.
For today highs will barely climb up above freezing to around 35°. Winds will be light and variable, around 5 mph.
We drop back into the mid-20s Wednesday night then finally climb back into the upper 30s to around 40° on Thursday.
For Thursday look for partly to mostly cloudy skies and not as cold, with afternoon temperatures in the low 40s. By late evening, there's a 30% chance of rain.
The cold turned deadly for some: Authorities reported at least 21 cold-related deaths across the country since Sunday, including seven in Illinois and six in Indiana.
At least five people died after collapsing while shoveling snow, while several victims were identified as homeless people who either refused shelter or didn't make it to a warm haven soon enough to save themselves from the bitter temperatures.
In Missouri on Monday, a 1-year-old boy was killed when the car he was riding in struck a snow plow, and a 20-year-old woman was killed in a separate crash after her car slid on ice and into the path of a tractor-trailer.
In a phenomenon that forecasters said is actually not all that unusual, all 50 states saw freezing temperatures at some point Tuesday.
That included Hawaii, where it was 18 degrees atop Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano.
Have a proper and safe heating source. Protect outdoor hoses, spouts and pipes. Please be sure that all pests and livestock have proper shelter from life-threatening cold.