Snow falls in Humboldt Park, Chicago, on Monday. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Snow cancelled some 1,000 flights at Chicago airports Monday as an arctic blast brings freezing temperatures to tens of millions of people across the U.S. this week, AP reports.

Why it matters: The National Weather Service (NWS) warns "widespread record cold" is possible for much of the country this week. It says 385 cold records could tumble from the Plains to the East Coast through Thursday.

  • Per AP, "The snow and ice was just the first punch from a weather system that pushed frigid air from Siberia across an area stretching from the Rocky Mountains to the East Coast."

What's happening: The ferocious snowstorm appears to have already claimed its first victims. New England on Eaton County Sheriff's Office said "very poor road conditions were a factor" in a triple fatal crash in Michigan on Monday.

  • Winter doesn't officially start until Dec. 22, but the wintry conditions have caused chaos at airports in Chicago. Video posted to social media shows an American Airlines plane in Chicago sliding off the runway while landing in icy conditions at O'Hare International Airport Monday morning.

What to expect: "The arctic airmass that has settled across much of the northern and central U.S. will continue to push south and eastward, spreading the much below average temperatures into the Southeast and East on Tuesday and continuing into Wednesday," the NWS said.

"Much of the central and eastern U.S. will be enveloped in a region of much below average temperatures over the next two days, along with potential for widespread record cold morning low temperatures and record low afternoon high temperatures."

By the numbers: NWS meteorologist Kevin Birk told AP Denver saw temperatures that exceeded 70 degrees. They'd plunged to 14 degrees by early Monday.

  • Birk said Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa could all see temperatures plummet to the single digits or low teens — and Chicago's forecast high of 21 degree "would be a full seven degrees lower than the previous record set for Nov. 12," AP reports.

Go deeper: In photos: Snowstorm pummels the Northern Plains

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