It has been a very cold week in the US with temperature departures in the central US at 15 to 25 degrees below average. Yesterday, Champaign-Urbana was 26 degrees below average for the date and just 2 degrees shy of the record low of 6 degrees set back in 1891.
Here is the temperature departure for today from the site Climate Reanalyzer showing the bitterly cold temperatures in the eastern half of the US, while once again Alaska is well above average. We saw this pattern most of last winter, starting in late November.
Here is the plot of the jet stream (high winds at upper levels of the atmosphere – shaded in yellow and red) showing its dip down into the southern US. That means we pretty much have an open door to cold Arctic air in the Midwest.