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Windchill warning in Central and Eastern Mass. in effect as gusts increase

Steam rises along School Street downtown Boston during a cold winter blast on Friday.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

It’s plenty cold already, and it’s going to get even colder.

An extreme blast of winter weather was expected to bring the windchill as low as 30 degrees below zero in parts of Massachusetts Friday and into Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

A windchill warning is in effect until 1 p.m. Saturday for the Greater Boston area, Worcester, and the North Shore, the weather service said.

The coldest conditions began Friday night and will continue into mid-morning Saturday, with the strongest gusts expected in hilly terrain and along the coastline, the weather service said.

Wind gusts of 40 to 50 miles per hour, and some even reaching 60 miles per hour, led to widespread power outages Friday night, as windchills dropped to between -10 and -30 degrees across Massachusetts, according to the weather service.


“The winds have been a little gustier than expected,” said Kyle Pederson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Norton. “We’re seeing lots of power outages, lots of downed trees, even some damage to vehicles and houses out there.”

At about 10:45 p.m., there were 14,100 electric customers across the state without power, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency’s online outage map.

The high winds downed trees in several communities, and at least one had tragic consequences. In Southwick, a baby was killed and a 23-year-old mother was seriously injured after their vehicle was crushed by a fallen tree, officials said.

In Palmer, a tree fell onto a home on Beacon Drive, but it was unoccupied, officials said.

Inside South Station on Friday morning, a handful of people who do not have homes sought refuge from the frigid temperatures.

“I hate the cold,” said a 30-year-old man named Derek.

He sat on a bench with his bike. Others had luggage or grocery bags filled with their belongings. A few people nodded off on benches, not far from the train platform.


Sometimes, people living in the streets sit on the sidewalks outside South Station, which can be warmed by the trains passing underneath, Derek said. But on Friday it was too cold for that.

Huddling in ATM vestibules is another option, but some can’t be accessed after 11 p.m., even if you have a bank card, he said. Others stay in the hallways of public housing developments, he said.

Another man who declined to be named offered his wintertime strategy: “Keep moving.”

There were various complaints from those who call the streets home. Some didn’t like to stay in the shelters, where they worried their possessions would be stolen or a fight might break out. Others said they disliked how some workers at South Station ridiculed them. They wished there were more warm places they could go.

Some said the train station would be their home for the weekend.

“You’re in my living room right now,” said one man, who declined to provide his name.

At the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard known as Mass. and Cass., the cold didn’t keep people away. In the early afternoon, multiple people hiked up the sleeves of their winter coats and plunged needles into their veins on the street. One man held up his coat against a biting wind with one hand while lighting a glass pipe secured between his lips with another. Another man solicited the crowd for Adderall.


“Who’s got them?” he asked.

On both sides of Atkinson Street, tents were put up to keep out the cold, about 20 in all. Some swayed in the wind. A half-dozen people declined to answer questions about the cold. One man, bundled in blankets and sleeping bags on the side of the road, said he would only talk in exchange for cash. Others just shook their heads while blowing into their hands.

Across the state, officials warned people to be prepared for the frigid weather and opened warming centers for those looking to escape the cold. In Everett, Mayor Carlo DeMaria tweeted a reminder to residents that the Edward G. Connolly Center will be open Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. “to those who don’t have access to a warm environment.”

Public schools in Boston, Worcester, and Providence were closed Friday due to the cold.

Shortly before noon Friday, the temperature had dipped to 19 degrees in Boston, with a windchill of 2 degrees. By 10 p.m., it had dropped to -4 degrees, with a windchill of -31.

At the Blue Hill Observatory, the temperature had fallen to 12.3 degrees on Friday afternoon. By 10:50 p.m. the temperature was -8.8 degrees and the windchill was -34 degrees, according to the observatory’s website.

Saturday night will not be as cold, with lows around 14 degrees and temperatures rising into the lower 20s after midnight and bouncing back up to the mid-40s on Sunday, forecasters said.


Correspondent Jeremy C. Fox contributed to this report.

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Emily Sweeney can be reached at emily.sweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney and on Instagram @emilysweeney22. Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.