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Polar blast barrels across the United States

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The deep freeze gripping much of the country is about to send temperatures plummeting to unbelievable lows.

Yes, it’s winter. And yes, it’s cold. But this is different.

Just ask Richard Thomas, owner of R. Thomas Deluxe Grill in Atlanta.

He keeps a dozen birds outside the restaurant and never, in his 30 years, has he had to move them inside.

But that’s exactly what he scrambled to do Sunday.

“The weather prediction made me nervous,” said Thomas, 80. “Rather than risk danger to any of my buddies, so to speak, I just decided to make that decision.”

As many as 140 million Americans are bracing this week for a polar blast that’s barreling across the country, dumping snow in some places and shattering records.

Much of the United States will see the coldest temperatures in almost 20 years, according to the National Weather Service. They are expected to be 30 to 50 degrees below average in some cities.

To put things in perspective, the weather in Atlanta and Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday will be colder than in Anchorage, Alaska. By Wednesday, nearly half the nation will shudder in temperatures of zero or lower, forecasters said.

The unusual weather is already causing headaches, especially for travelers.

Close to 3,000 flights were canceled Sunday, said the flight-tracking website flightaware.com, which tracks cancellations due to weather, mechanical and other problems.

A man at Logan International Airport in Boston told CNN affiliate WCVB that he will miss two days of a cruise because he can’t get to Florida as planned to meet the boat.

Another passenger at Logan was overcome with emotion as she spoke, her voice cracking under the stress.

“I just want to go home. I just want to get back, settled in. We’ve been cooped up for two days,” WCVB reported Amy Roy said.

Read more at CNN