Arctic blast dropping temperatures in U.S. to lows not seen in years

Four homeless men warm themselves on a steam grate by the Federal Trade Commission, blocks from the Capitol, as frigid temperatures grip Washington on January 4.

Four homeless men warm themselves on a steam grate by the Federal Trade Commission, blocks from the Capitol, as frigid temperatures grip Washington on January 4.

(CNN) — Get ready for bone-chilling cold you probably haven’t endured in years.

A deep freeze is spreading across much of the United States this weekend, making the nor’easter that just blanketed about 20 states with snow look like a mere curtain raiser.

Michael Stanton walks between houses covered with ice in the shore town of Scituate, Massachusetts, on Friday, January 3.

Michael Stanton walks between houses covered with ice in the shore town of Scituate, Massachusetts, on Friday, January 3.

Sunday temperatures are expected to hit 30 degrees below zero in North Dakota and other sections of the Plains and Midwest; the wind chill will make it feel like minus 50, the National Weather Service said.

By Wednesday, nearly half the nation — 140 million people — will shiver in temperatures of zero or lower.

The arctic blast threatens to sweep subzero lows as far south as Alabama and plunge much of the Deep South into the single digits.

Winter weather in the past week has claimed at least 13 lives, CNN has confirmed.

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