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Record-breaking Cold in US Midwest Heads East

Ice forms along the shore of Lake Michigan, Feb. 19, 2015, in Chicago.

Bone-chilling cold in the U.S. Midwest shattered records in Chicago on Thursday, closing schools and starting its trudge eastward to an already frozen Boston and New York.

Arctic air was expected to keep its grip on the nation's midsection on Friday morning, a day after the minus 8 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 22 Celsius) measured in Chicago broke the low temperature record of minus 7 degrees for the day set in 1936, said National Weather Service meteorologist Bob Oravec.

The wind chill made temperatures in Chicago feel like minus 25, he said.

Chicago public schools, serving 396,000 students in the third largest U.S. school district, canceled classes on Thursday and many commuters there were bundled so heavily that only their eyes could be seen.

But not everyone hates the weather. Teejay Riedl, 54, was filming the steam rising from the Chicago River before work.

"I love it. It's crisp, it's clean, there are no bugs," he said.

Farther north, Sarah Applin, who works for Travel Market Vacations in the Milwaukee area, has seen a surge in business.

"We have been very, very busy. It's cold here so everyone wants to leave," she said.

Bitter cold was headed east, meaning a frosty Friday morning commute was in store for East Coast residents from Boston down to Richmond, Virginia, Oravec said. More records are expected to fall.

Ice on the surface of the Potomac River in Washington, DC, Feb. 19, 2015. (Diaa Bekheet/VOA)
Ice on the surface of the Potomac River in Washington, DC, Feb. 19, 2015. (Diaa Bekheet/VOA)

With temperatures in Washington, D.C. forecast to reach 3 F (-19 C) overnight, schools and local governments across the region were closed or opening with delays on Thursday.

It has been cold enough in New York this week to bring the roaring Niagara Falls to a halt, as parts of the waterfall trio on the Canadian border froze over, leaving long spears of ice cascading down from the falls' edges and glacier-like mounds rising up from their plunge pools.

Cabin fever appears to have taken hold in Boston, which broke its own record this week for the snowiest February in the city's history. Residents in Boston, which has had more than 8 feet (2.4 meters) of snow this winter, are using the social media hashtag #BostonBlizzardChallenge to share videos of themselves - wearing only swimsuits - diving into snow banks.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was not amused by the high dives taken from porches, car roofs, stairs and even second-story windows.

"It's a foolish thing to do and you could kill yourself," Walsh told reporters.