It’s a heat wave! Or at least it feels like it.
With temperatures soaring to a balmy 35 degrees on Monday and expected to reach 50 later in the week, thawing Bostonians began once again to enjoy the simple things in life — like walking to work without a face mask and checking their phones without their fingertips going numb.
After enduring the fourth-longest freezing streak in the city’s recorded history, Boston seemed to bask in the relative normalcy of a typical January day, as temperatures just barely broke the freezing mark for the first time since Dec. 26.
“It’s a nice morale boost being able to feel my toes again,” said Sam Williams, owner of The Bacon Truck, who was back out on the road for the first time in a week, slinging BLTs, grilled cheeses, and Cuban sandwiches on the Greenway, which was littered with snow banks.
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” Williams said, sounding genuinely excited. “It’s going to be sunny and in the high 30s.”
If it wasn’t exactly the first day of spring, the brighter mood was still palpable, particularly after residents survived last week’s drubbing from a “bomb cyclone” and a weekend with wind chills that plunged to more than 20 below zero.
“I’ll tell you what: I was going to wear shorts today,” said Tim White, 52, a food distributor who was buying a sandwich at The Bacon Truck and had smartly dressed in long pants. “You feel like when it’s 10, 15 degrees warmer, you can come out. It’s manageable. It lifts your spirits.”
The modest return to average January temperatures — 36 is typical for this time of year — “absolutely” makes people feel happier because it represents such a dramatic change from last week, said Catherine A. Sanderson, a professor of psychology at Amherst College and a popular lecturer on the subject of happiness.
Indeed, many spots around the state were about 15 to 25 degrees warmer on Monday than Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.
“How we evaluate things is very much by contrast,” Sanderson said, noting that college students enjoy relaxing on the grass in shorts and T-shirts when the temperature hits 60 for the first time in April. “It’s the comparison and contrast which influences how we feel weather and, in turn, makes us feel better.”
If it were this cold in October, after a long stretch of weather in the 40s and 50s, people would be complaining, she said. “But 28 degrees after we’ve had single-digit temperatures for a week actually does feel very pleasant to people because we’ve adjusted; we’ve adapted,” she said.
And, oh, what a difference it was on Monday, as Bostonians reacclimated to temperatures were downright springlike by recent standards.
“This is much better,” said Allan Masison, 55, a letter carrier for 23 years, who was making his rounds downtown, after what he called a brutal week of delivering mail in driving snow and extreme cold. “I’m going to have to get a kite out, and get my shorts out, and have a nice day.”
It felt so warm on Monday to Pat Lyons that the 24-year-old South Boston resident ditched his gloves and earmuffs, along with the sweater he has been wearing underneath his jacket.
“I was pretty excited last week when it was going to be 17 or 18 degrees; I thought that was going to be warm,” said Lyons, who works in the Financial District. “So seeing it above freezing this week is pretty huge.”
Leah Sabatino, a 23-year-old trainer at Equinox in the Seaport, took a Hubway bike to work on Monday, after a week of trudging through the snow from her home in the North End or taking an Uber to avoid the subzero wind chills.
“I’m definitely a lot happier,” she said. “It makes the commute a lot easier.”
Chris Morris, 24, who works at Three Center Plaza, was standing outside Monday, smoking an e-cigarette and boldly sporting a jacket — slightly unzipped.
“It’s balmy compared to last week,” he said.
Temperatures on Friday are expected to rise into the low 50s, dampened a bit by some rain. In other words, it’s going to be “gorgeous,” Morris said, adding that he plans to step out and enjoy the warmth “as much as my boss will let me.”
Ok. We're up to single digits, so time to find the ole flip- flops since it will feel so relatively balmy.— Robert Rasmussen (@RobertRasmusse2) January 7, 2018
checked tomorrow?s weather and it?s gonna be a steamy 35 babey don?t even have to wear a sweater under ur jacket #heatwave— Pat Lyons (@OC_Knows) January 8, 2018
It?s 14 degrees (feels like temp is 3) now and it feels warm after the past few sub zero days. It?s going to feel like summer when it?s in the 50?s later this week! #PolarVortex— Barb Mathers (@barbmathers) January 7, 2018
Good Morning World! It?s a balmy 22 degrees here in Boston. Feels like a heat wave! Bring on the melting this week!— Man Who Is Not Short (@RockingRoger) January 8, 2018
The low temp tomorrow is in the DOUBLE DIGITS. It?s a heat wave! #frozen— Martine (@MarteenyP) January 8, 2018