Dangerously cold temperatures plunged into the single digits around the U.S. and wind chills pushed them even lower.
The bone-chilling result led to school delays and cancellations from the South to the Northeast and Midwest, worries about the homeless and the deaths of at least three people who were in weather-related traffic accidents.
But there is a bright side to all this: This season's snowfall totals are way down from last year, one of the snowiest seasons on record.
Last year, New York, Boston and Philadelphia all got around 5 feet of snow from December through February, or about 1½ to 2½ feet more than normal. This year, they've seen only a few inches of snow since Dec. 1.
Here's a selection of photos showing this year's first big chill, which range from a Cleveland ice house coated in ice to a treacherous drive for motorists to commuters on ferries enduring below-freezing temperatures.