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After a frigid Tuesday, a warm-up is coming, followed by more bitter cold

A man walked past steam rising from a manhole on St. James Avenue Tuesday.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

People had to bundle up and wear hats and gloves Tuesday as temperatures plunged to single digits and wind chill values were at or below zero, but a respite is coming, with high temperatures set to rise back into the 30s for the rest of the week before plunging again Friday night.

After a morning of low temperatures in the single digits, forecasters predicted partly sunny skies and a high of 37 degrees in Boston for Wednesday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

Temperatures will rise again Thursday and remain seasonable during the the day Friday before dropping that night, bringing wind chills as low as 5 to 20 degrees below zero, according to the weather service.

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“We have another shot of arctic air coming in here later Friday and Saturday . . . It’s going to be very similar to what we saw” Tuesday, said Hayden Frank, a meteorologist with the weather service in Norton. “It may be a little bit windier, so wind chills may actually be lower late Friday night into Saturday morning.”

Saturday will remain very cold, with a high in Boston of about 15 degrees and a low temperature that night around 8 degrees, before highs will reach into the 30s again Sunday and remain there for the next few days, forecasters predicted.

The coming warm-up, however short-lived, will be a welcome return to normal for area residents, who faced bitter cold Tuesday as the wind chill in Boston dropped to as low as 13 degrees below zero.

Motorists and pedestrians in downtown Boston were told Tuesday to avoid the section of Milk Street between Broad and India streets because a water main broke around 6 a.m. Subfreezing temperatures were the likely cause of the break, which resulted in water surfacing on the roadways, according to Tom Bagley, a spokesman for the Boston Water and Sewer Commission.

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The work continued into the evening but was expected to be completed before the night was over, Bagley said.

A wind chill advisory was in effect until 4 p.m. for portions of Worcester, Franklin, Hampshire, Middlesex, and Hampden counties, as wind chills plunged to nearly 20 below zero.

“The cold wind chills could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes,” the advisory said. “Use caution while traveling outside. Wear appropriate clothing, a hat, and gloves.”

A water main break on Milk Street between Broad and India streets in Boston on Tuesday.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

It was 13 degrees at Logan International Airport at 1:54 p.m., Tuesday, and the wind chill was negative 3 degrees. In Fitchburg the temperature was 11 degrees at 2:52 p.m. with a wind chill of negative 2 degrees.

At the Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire, the temperature dropped to 30 degrees below zero, frigid enough that a weather observer there was able to freeze a dish of spaghetti with a fork hovering inches above the plate, suspended by frozen noodles. Posted to Twitter, the image had been shared 400 times by evening.

The frigid temperatures made travel more dangerous, and Massachusetts State Police reminded people to be prepared before venturing outdoors.

“Motorists should make sure they have adequate gas, charged phone & blankets/extra jackets in case they break down & have to wait for help,” State Police tweeted. “Also-it’s against law to keep pets tethered outdoors in these conditions. Pls don’t leave them in a parked car either.”

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Students at the Cambridgeport School at 89 Elm St. in Cambridge had to be evacuated and put on buses Tuesday morning as firefighters put out a small fire at the school.

“Students have been relocated to @MBTA & city school buses to shelter from the extreme cold,” Cambridge fire officials tweeted. “Students not picked up here will temporarily relocate to the HS field house.”


Emily Sweeney can be reached at emily.sweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney and on Instagram @emilysweeney22. Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.