NEW YORK - The hundreds of millions of people gripped by the Arctic blast can begin to peel off a layer or two of clothing starting Thursday.
After days of record-breaking cold for most of the country, temperatures are expected to rise Thursday, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said. The warming is expected to continue through the weekend.
But that doesn't mean toasty temperatures.
The Mid-Atlantic region to Maine could suffer more record-cold early Thursday morning, Guy said. And even the rising temperatures will be 10 to 20 degrees below average.
Hundreds of records broken
The eastern two-thirds of the US, reaching as far south as Houston and the Florida Panhandle, were in freezing temperatures much of this week.
More than 232 million people were in areas 32 degrees or lower Wednesday morning.
Temperatures like those broke hundreds of records, some dating back over a century to 1911, CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen said. That year had its own Arctic outbreak called "Blue Norther," which the National Weather Service said was similar to the current weather conditions.
Officials have linked at least 5 deaths to the cold
Treacherous weather likely contributed to fatal crashes in at least two states, authorities said.
In Ohio, a 16-car pileup during a heavy snowfall Tuesday killed a 21-year-old woman, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said. Several other people were hospitalized after the massive crash.
And in Michigan, three people were killed in a crash Monday during "very poor road conditions," the Eaton County Sheriff's Office said.
In Chicago, an 80-year-old man died as a result of cardiovascular disease, with cold exposure as a contributing factor, the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office said.
CNN's Tina Burnside, Jason Hanna, Omar Jimenez and Hollie Silverman contributed to this report.