The National Weather Service has issued a wind chill advisory for Western and Central Massachusetts, particularly the higher terrain, warning of dangerously cold wind chills tonight that could make it feel like it’s 17 below zero.

The forecasters are warning people who venture outside they face the possibility of frostbite or hypothermia. People should limit time outside; if they do go outside, they should pile on the layers and cover up exposed skin, the forecasters said.

The temperature will drop to 4 below zero to 11 below, but the chill will be sharpened by northwest winds blowing 5 to 10 miles per hour and gusting to 25 miles per hour. The advisory remains in effect until 10 a.m. Thursday.

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In Eastern Massachusetts, it will be almost as cold. In Boston tonight temperatures are expected to drop to around 5 degrees, with wind chills as low as 7 below zero.

Forecasters said the region was experiencing the coldest temperatures for the past few years — and the cold would persist through another bitterly cold day Thursday and then into Friday, when highs could rise to a relatively balmy low to mid-20s.

A snow event arriving late Friday into Saturday will bring several inches of flakes, though the weather service is still determining where exactly the flakes will fall. Meteorologist Matthew Belk said the storm appeared to be staying further offshore, reducing the potential for widespread snowfall.

Temperatures will remain in the 20s through the weekend, while Monday and Tuesday’s highs should bring much-missed warmth to the region, with highs in the 40s, forecasters said.