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As biting winds whipped across the barren brick plaza outside Faneuil Hall on Tuesday, bundled-up visitors huddled inside the historic market to browse the souvenir shops or sip coffee.

“We’re sticking close to the buildings,” John Boyle, 51, of Dover, N.H., said as he browsed Revolutionary mementos with his 13-year-old son, Jack. “If the weather were warmer, we’d probably be going a little further afield. ... But we’re having a great time.”

The snow and freezing rain of Christmas weekend have departed, but residents across New England are bracing for bitter cold that is expected to last into the New Year’s holiday weekend, as an arctic air mass moves into the region.


Highs on Tuesday were in the 20s across most of the state, with some in the teens along the New York border — and Tuesday was likely to be the warmest day this week.

Tuesday’s high temperatures are mostly in the 20s.
Tuesday’s high temperatures are mostly in the 20s.National Weather Service

On Wednesday, only coastal Massachusetts is expected to make it into the 20s, with most of the state getting no warmer than the teens. By Thursday night, Boston’s predicted low is a teeth-chattering 3 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

Through the weekend and into New Year’s Day, Greater Boston’s highs are expected to be in the teens, while lows will drop to the single digits. In the state’s interior, it’s expected to be even colder. In Berkshire County, forecasters expect windchills dropping to as low as minus-30 on Wednesday night.

There is a chance of snow Saturday. The weather service also cautioned that over the weekend, a coastal storm could bring gale-force winds that will whip up Massachusetts Bay.

The weather service advised residents to bundle up for extreme cold, with warm hats, face masks, waterproof boots, and several layers of clothing.

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh released a list of cold-weather tips. He asked residents to be careful using space heaters, which can cause fires; to check on neighbors who are disabled or elderly; and to watch for homeless people who may need help.


“In times like these, it’s vital for residents to look out for one another, and I encourage all Bostonians to reach out to the City if they or their neighbors need help this winter season,” the mayor said in a statement.

Boston Centers for Youth & Families community centers will be open for those needing to warm up during the day, he said. Information on the locations of community centers and homeless shelters is available at www.boston.gov.

Shelter operators and homeless advocates were working Tuesday to ensure that people living on the street know that they have a warm place to stay.

Jim Greene, director of the city’s Emergency Shelter Commission, said the Boston Public Health Commission, the city’s shelters, police, Emergency Medical Services, and other agencies were coordinating efforts to shelter anyone who will come indoors and to provide ways to stay warm for the small number of homeless who won’t come inside even on the coldest days.

“Boston is a major city and a small town, and in a time like this it’s a city of neighborhoods and a city of neighbors,” Greene said. “We know our homeless neighbors by name and by location, and we know their needs.”

In this frigid spell, safety specialists also cautioned residents to avoid driving on potentially icy roads, and when driving is unavoidable, to leave extra space between cars, accelerate and decelerate slowly, and be especially cautious on areas where ice is likely to form, such as off-ramps.


“The problem is black ice, sometimes referred to as flash ice, can be something that literally appears out of nowhere,” said John Paul, senior manager of traffic safety with AAA Northeast.

Paul said drivers should invest in snow tires or at least check the treads on their all-season tires to make sure they are in good shape. If a vehicle starts to skid, he said, drivers should remove their foot from the gas pedal carefully — and not step on the brake.

At home, residents should ensure pipes have adequate insulation and should seal any air leaks near pipes adjacent to exterior portions of dwellings so that water doesn’t freeze inside plumbing and cause it to burst.

The Boston Water and Sewer Commission recommends that homeowners locate their main water shut-off valve, and learn how to use it to minimize potential flooding and property damage.

Inside Faneuil Hall on Tuesday, Jack Boyle wore a hooded sweatshirt over a zippered wool sweater and a long-sleeved shirt.

The teenager and his father explained that because Jack has lived with his mother in Arizona for the last few years, he doesn’t own a heavy coat, but he is adept at layering to allow for adjustments in a climate where temperatures can drop 30 degrees from daytime to overnight.


Jack insisted the cold didn’t bother him, but he said his 15-year-old sister, Veronica, was less amenable to the New England winter.

“She thought it was very freezing,” he said, “and she did not like it.”

The National Weather Service offered advice on how to dress for the coming cold.
The National Weather Service offered advice on how to dress for the coming cold.National Weather Service

Emily Sweeney and Cristela Guerra of the Globe staff and correspondent Ben Thompson contributed to this report. Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com.