It's officially colder than Mars: NASA recorded a daytime high of 17.6 F on Mars today, which was warmer than many parts of the Midwest and Northeast. Above, a postal service worker braves the cold in Rockford, Illinois where the high was 18 F.
Time to stop remarking about how unearthly cold it is outside because on Thursday, Mars was actually warmer than many parts of the U.S. The daytime high in the red planet's Gale Crater, as recorded by NASA's Curiosity Rover, was 17.6 degrees F - a whopping 11 degrees warmer than the 6-degree high in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Temperatures in fourteen states from Washington to Maine reported temperatures colder than Mars, as a brutal blast of Arctic air sweeps the country. Mars just recently passed its closest orbit to the sun, which partially explains why the temperature was relatively balmy. The Gale Crater is also located in one of the warmest parts of the planet, near the equator.

It's officially colder than Mars: NASA recorded a daytime high of 17.6 F on Mars today, which was warmer than many parts of the Midwest and Northeast. Above, a postal service worker braves the cold in Rockford, Illinois where the high was 18 F.

The temperature was recorded on the red planet's Gale Crater (right) which is near the equator. However, temperatures did dip to -144F overnight. However, Americans shouldn't start planning their winter vacation to Mars just yet, as the nighttime temperatures drop drastically. Thursday night, temperatures dipped to a fatal -144 F.

Temperatures are expected to improve Friday as Winter Storm Gorgon moves off the coast of the U.S.

However, as much as two feet of snow will drop over the Great Lakes region as cold air creates lake effect snow in the region to create more blizzard conditions when combined with strong winds. This next wave of cold has already hit parts of the midwest, causing whiteout conditions in the Dakotas, Minnesota and Iowa on Thursday.

By Friday morning it's expected to pass on to the East Coast and wrap up the evening in New England.

Below follows some of the damage the winter storm has done this week.

The Hudson-Athens Lighthouse is surrounded by the icy waters of the Hudson River on Thursday, January 8, 2015, in Hudson, New York.

Steam rises over Lake Michigan near the Chicago skyline on Thursday. Dangerously cold air has sent temperatures plummeting into the single digits around.

An aerial photo showing the Navy Pier on Lake Michigan on Thursday, January 8, 2015 in Chicago.
Delaying and canceling School

School districts from the South to the Northeast and Midwest delayed the start of classes or canceled school altogether.

Wind-chill readings were at or below zero in such places as Alabama and North Carolina, along with a chunk of the Midwest, the Plains and the Northeast. The wind chill was minus-40 in Saranac Lake in upstate New York on Thursday morning.

In northwest Georgia, schools in Catoosa County had a two-hour delayed start on Thursday because of temperatures expected to top out at 27 degrees and dip as low as minus 2 degrees with wind chills.

Many other cities modified school schedules, including Detroit, where it was 3 degrees early Thursday. Students got the day off Thursday at Detroit Public Schools, the state's largest district, and at many other districts around Michigan.

School districts also closed schools in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Pennsylvania and Maine.

'Heat wave' temperatures are expected to warm up on Friday, but they will still be cold enough to produce an expected two feet of snow in the Great Lakes region

Deaths in Michigan

Authorities say the severe weather and blowing snow are factors in the deaths of two northern Michigan men - an 85-year-old who was struck by a car while crossing a road to get his mail and a 64-year-old who was hit by a car while clearing snow.

A car struck 85-year-old Carl Dewey on Wednesday in Helena Township, about 30 miles northeast of Traverse City, the Antrim County sheriff's department said. There were whiteout conditions at the time, the department told The Grand Rapids Press.

The Kalkaska County sheriff's department said 64-year-old Zane Chwastek of Bear Lake Township was using a snow blower in his driveway Wednesday when a car slid off the road and struck him.

A pile-up in whiteout conditions

An 18-vehicle pileup that happened in whiteout conditions on a western Pennsylvania interstate left two people dead and nearly two dozen injured.

Nine trucks, several of them tractor-trailers, and nine cars were involved in the crash Wednesday afternoon on Interstate 80 in Clarion Township, state police said. At least one of the trucks was carrying hazardous material, but no leaks were found.

None of the injuries was thought to be life-threatening, but three of the approximately 20 people taken to the hospital appeared to have serious injuries. The others were treated for everything from bumps to broken bones.


Two men were killed in the accident, both after getting out of their vehicles to aid the other injured.
Horses killed in fire

A space heater being used to thaw frozen pipes was the likely cause of a barn fire that killed more than a dozen horses in northern Ohio, fire officials said.

'It just engulfed the building. It went up in a hurry,' said Tim Kelly, an employee of the farm in Tallmadge, a suburb of Akron. 'By the time you saw it, the building was just full of smoke with flames just coming through the roof.'

Firefighters were hindered by temperatures hovering around 3 degrees.

'We went in, but you couldn't see and you couldn't breathe,' Kelly told the Akron Beacon Journal. 'You could hear them, but we couldn't get them out.'

A pair of onlookers take pictures as waves crash at North Avenue Beach along the Lake Michigan shore on Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Commuter frustration

Below-freezing temperatures in the nation's capital caused headaches for commuters.

In all, there were delays on five of the Metro system's six lines Thursday morning.


An ornamental fountain fronting the Old State Bank in Decatur, Alabama, turned into icicles on Thursday after temperatures reached a low of 7 degrees F.
The Washington transit agency says the system's red line was delayed in both directions because of weather-related equipment problems on train cars. The other four lines were delayed because of broken or cracked rails.

Commuters vented their frustration on Twitter, with many posts including photos of stations and trains jam-packed with people. One Twitter user wrote that he loves being told to avoid lines that have delays, adding, 'OK, I'll just move my house and job for the day.'

Keeping resident's warm

Many cities experiencing cold weather have opened warming stations for residents lacking heat. But extra care is being taken to protect the homeless.

In New Jersey, some officials have empowered law enforcement to move homeless people off the streets and into shelters.

Blankets were being given out at some of the 15 small tent cities around Huntsville, Alabama. Workers from a nonprofit organization there encouraged residents of the encampments to come inside. Some people planned to stay at a church that was opening as a shelter.

'We've got snow flurries as the temperatures continue to drop so they're coming in,' said Clete Wetli, executive director of First Stop Inc., which provides transportation, mental health counseling and other services to the homeless. 'The last thing we want is for someone to get hypothermia or die of frostbite.'

Officials in Ohio and Georgia warned residents never to use their kitchen ovens or stoves to heat their homes. It could prove deadly.

Watch the Daily Mail video coverage here.