Bitter cold expected to arrive in Bay State tonight

Though last night’s snow was a nonevent for much of the state, the wind chill accompanying this week’s very cold weather must be taken seriously, the National Weather Service said.

Today’s highs will feel toasty compared to the rest of the week. Temperatures will hit the 20s as winds pick up and cold air filters into the region, said meteorologist Bill Simpson. Boston will hold steady at 26 degrees today, Fitchburg at 26, and Taunton at 27, though wind gusts up to 25 miles per hour will make temperatures feel 10 to 15 degrees colder.

Tonight an Arctic cold front will arrive, and immediately make its presence known by driving temperatures in much of the state’s interior into single digits. Wind chills will be as low as minus 15 degrees. The weather service has issued a wind chill advisory for Worcester, Hampshire, Berkshire, Hampden, and Franklin counties from 10 p.m. to 10 a.m.

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In Boston, temperatures are expected to drop to 10 degrees overnight, with a wind chill of minus 8.

The coldest temperatures will occur after midnight tonight and last throughout Thursday.

During the day Wednesday, highs will climb only into the upper teens in Boston and other communities east of Interstate 495, Simpson said. Temperatures will hover in the lower teens west of 495. Overnight Wednesday, lows will drop into the single digits throughout the state, and Simpson predicts parts of Western Massachusetts will drop to zero degrees.

The Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail Co., which operates the commuter rail lines, is gearing up to deploy extra mechanical staff, generators, and compressors, said spokeswoman Rhiannon D’Angelo

“We’re doing the best with our preparation to keep the delays to a minimum,” she said.

Though colder than normal, these lows are not quite record-breaking, Simpson said. Boston’s record low temperatures were set during a cold snap in 1882. Wednesday’s record is minus 6 degrees and Thursday is an even colder, minus 13.

“It’s still a ways away from the records,” Simpson said, “but it’s going to seem cold.”

Thursday will see the same highs in the teens, though some respite from the cold should arrive Friday with highs in the mid- to upper 20s, ahead of a potential snow event this weekend.