BONE-CHILLING cold gripped much of the US as 2018 began, breaking century-old records and leading to several deaths.

The National Weather Service issued wind chill advisories and freeze warnings yesterday covering a vast area from south Texas to Canada and from Montana to New England.

Authorities opened warming shelters in the south as temperatures dipped close to zero in Alabama and Georgia.

An annual New Year’s Day waterskiing show on Pigeon Lake in western Michigan was cancelled for the first time since the event was launched in 1980 because the water was frozen solid.

Temperatures plunged below zero elsewhere in the Mid West, including in Aberdeen, South Dakota, with a record-breaking minus 36C. The city’s previous New Year’s Day record had stood for 99 years.

In Nebraska, temperatures hit minus 26C before midnight on Sunday in Omaha, breaking a record dating to 1884.

Early yesterday, temperatures in the Deep South plummeted to minus 10C in Atlanta and minus 3C as far south as New Orleans.

The cold has been attributed in at least eight deaths in the past week.

Most recently, sheriff’s officials in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, said a 27-year-old woman whose body was found on Monday evening on the shore of Lake Winnebago probably died of exposure.