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BOSTON (CBSMiami) – Frostbite warnings are in effect for much of the country as an arctic blast extends from the northern plains to New England – even dipping the mercury down south.

Forecasters warn that 70 percent of the country could be below the freezing mark on New Year’s Day.

“It’s just brutal. We’re gonna be talking about this cold for days if not weeks,” said meteorologist Danielle Niles with the CBS station in Boston.

At the Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire, boiling water instantly turned to ice crystals thanks to an air temperature of minus 34 degrees.

Maine’s Rockport Harbor is freezing over for the first time in years.

“Saltwater doesn’t freeze to easily so to see something semi-frozen over, you know it’s cold,” said Rockport resident David Gelerman.

At Chicago’s Midway Airport, it was too cold to fly. More than 80 flights were canceled and nearly 250 were delayed.

It was like really hectic and a whole lot of people here,” said Richard Meban who was trying to get a flight out.

South Carolina’s Department of Transportation has crews working 12-hour shifts, pre-treating bridges which could freeze overnight. Even Georgia has trucks on standby if Old Man Winter reaches that far south.

The brutal temps are also affecting some New Year’s plans. Philadelphia is considering canceling its annual “Mummer’s Day” Parade. Revelers in New York’s Time Square are being urged to really bundle up because temperatures could be in the single digits, with feels like temps below zero, when the ball drops at midnight.

The hashtag #ItSoCold was the top trending U.S. topic on Twitter for a period of time on Thursday.

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