In Michigan, residents jammed stores to stock up on supplies.
"I made my husband go grocery shopping last night," said Kim Tarnopol, 46, of the Detroit suburb of Huntington Woods. Tarnopol was picking up cold medicine Sunday for her daughter Emma at a CVS in nearby Berkley, Mich.
Travel problems started early Sunday. In New York City, a plane from Toronto landed at Kennedy International Airport and then slid into snow on a taxiway. No one was hurt, though the airport temporarily suspended operations because of icy runways.
About 1,300 flights had been canceled Sunday at O'Hare and Midway international airports in Chicago, aviation officials said, and there also were cancellations at Logan International Airport in Boston, Tennessee's Memphis and Nashville international airports, and Lambert international airport in St. Louis.
School was called off Monday for the entire state of Minnesota, as well as cities and districts in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana and Iowa, among others.
Chicago Public School officials reversed course late in the day Sunday, canceling classes for Monday ahead of the expected bitterly cold temperatures. The change in plans came amid criticism from the Chicago Teachers Union, though officials say they made the decision after they "evaluated the situation again."
Southern states are bracing for possible record temperatures, too, with single-digit highs expected Tuesday in Georgia and Alabama.
Temperatures are expected to dip into the 30s in parts of Florida on Tuesday. But Florida Citrus Mutual spokesman Andrew Meadows said it must be at 28 degrees or lower four hours straight for fruit to freeze badly.
In western Kentucky, which could see 1 to 3 inches of snow, Smithland farmer David Nickell moved extra hay to the field and his animals out of the wind. He'd also stocked up on batteries and gas and loaded up the pantry and freezer. The 2009 ice storm that paralyzed the state and knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of people is fresh in his mind.
"We are hoping this isn't going to be more than a few days of cold weather, but we did learn with the ice storm that you can wake up in the 19th century and you need to be able to not only survive, but be comfortable and continue with your basic day-to-day functions," Nickell said.
In Mt. Prospect, Ill., Steve White spent part of Sunday raking his roof with a specially made pole to prevent icicles as he prepares for a trip to Costa Rica in the coming days. He also installed a thermostat that directly faces a window, so a neighbor can check to make sure his furnace is working.
"I'm just glad I'm here to take care of it," he said.
Associated Press writers Julie Smyth in Columbus, Ohio; Tom Coyne in Indianapolis; Jim Salter in St. Louis; Brett Barrouquere in Louisville, Ky.; Verena Dobnik in New York City; David N. Goodman in Berkeley, Mich.; and Christine Amario in Miami contributed to this report.