Another wave of arctic air moved into the region Monday night, bringing blustery winds and bitterly cold temperatures that are expected to persist through Wednesday.
“It’s a gradual process, but by the weekend we’re certainly back to normal, and then actually above normal, in the mid-40s,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Simpson.
Like much of the nation, Massachusetts is in the grip of the polar vortex, a mass of frigid, dense air originating in the polar regions that has broken temperature records, dropping the Midwest into the deep freeze Monday and moving into the East and South today. Forecasters say some 187 million people in all could eventually feel the effects of the phenomenon.
Wind chill warnings and advisories are in effect today across the East and hard freeze warnings are in place in parts of the deep South. Temperatures are below freezing in most places from the Plains to the East Coast and as far south as the Gulf Coast, the weather service said this morning.
In Boston today, temperatures will stay in the mid-teens with wind gusts as high as 37 miles per hour, making it feel as cold as minus 3. Skies will be mostly sunny, but that won’t help much. Temperatures will drop into the single digits overnight and some areas in the interior could drop below zero. A wind chill advisory will go into effect today for areas west of Worcester County.
Boston’s new mayor, Martin J. Walsh, directed city agencies to be on the alert and reminded residents to take simple precautions to stay warm and keep an eye out for others who need assistance. On Walsh’s first day on the job, Monday, temperatures reached into the 50s, but they began dropping precipitously Monday evening.
The temperatures expected today and tonight are not the coldest the area has ever seen. In fact, it was colder last week.
But the spread of the polar vortex has been a shock to other areas of the East, where, for example, temperatures plunged to 3 degrees at Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport. Some areas in the South are colder than Boston, including Nashville, Tenn., and Louisville, Ky., where temperatures at midday were 11 and 10 degrees, respectively, compared with a reading of 15 degrees in Boston.
“New England received a glancing blow, but the core of this arctic air was directed across the Midwest and Southeast,” said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Bernie Rayno.
Light snow fell this morning in the Cape and islands and Southeastern Massachusetts. Only a half-inch is expected to accumulate, forecasters said.
Wednesday will be similar, with clear skies and frigid conditions in the morning. But temperatures will moderate later in the afternoon into the low 20s. Wind gusts as high as 20 miles per hour will subside by Thursday morning as temperatures head toward normal — and possibly even warmer than normal — levels for the weekend.
“It’s a very normal weather pattern for a storm to drag in cold air followed by a really big warmup,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Benjamin Sipprell.
Highs Thursday will be in the high 20s and low 30s. Friday will be mostly cloudy with a high in the mid-30s. There is a chance of light snow and rain showers throughout the region. High temperatures are expected to reach the 40s over the weekend.
Material from The Associated Press was used in this report. Catalina Gaitan can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @catalina_gaitan.