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On Thursday, nearly 50 million people woke up under frost and freeze alerts stretching from New Mexico to New England and included the cities of Nashville, Tennessee, Washington and Philadelphia.
But it wasn’t just the locations under the frost and freeze alerts feeling the cold temperatures, as 106 million total people were forecast to experience temperatures at or below freezing when they stepped out the door.
With temperatures in the 30s, many locations even registered a wind chill in the 20s.
New York City, for example, dipped into the 30s Thursday morning for the first time this season, making it the coldest morning since April.
Meanwhile, Chicago observed its third day in a row with freezing temperatures. The average first freeze in Chicago is October 19 so this first freeze was nearly two weeks late.
In Chicago, this cold had some extra sting after just experiencing its warmest October on record. The previous warmest was 2007.
In fact, much of the Midwest and Great Lakes regions saw a top five warmest October on record.
On Thursday, highs were expected to be 10 to 20 degrees below average from the Southern Plains into New England. That meant temperatures in the 50s and 60s across the South and 40s across the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic.
This chill will last into the weekend for most, before temperatures rebound late weekend into early next week.
While this week’s cold may seem like a shock to the system, due to warming global temperatures the first frost and freeze of the season is happening later through time.
About 95 percent of the country is experiencing warmer fall temperatures, and since 1970, the first frost of the season is one to three weeks later compared to 50 years ago.
Kathryn Prociv is a senior meteorologist and producer for NBC News.
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