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Snowflakes fell in Boston on Tuesday afternoon as unseasonably frigid air flowed in from the northwest and temperatures began to fall ahead of a cold, windy night.

The National Weather Service said a very brief period of snow was expected across the state, with accumulations from a coating to perhaps an inch in the highest terrain. Some slippery spots were also expected, the forecasters said in a hazardous weather outlook.

With an arctic air mass moving into the region, temperatures in Boston will drop Tuesday afternoon from a high in the low 40s down to around 20 degrees overnight, the weather service said.


Boston’s record low temperature for Wednesday, recorded in 1883, is 14 degrees, and its lowest high temperature for that date is 36. The latter record will almost certainly fall Wednesday.

“We’re looking at low 30s at best for [Wednesday’s] highs,” Bill Simpson, a meteorologist for the weather service, said in a telephone interview. “We’re going to break that record.”

Simpson said Worcester also could break a record because its lowest recorded high temperature for Nov. 13 is 32, and the forecast calls for temperatures there in the mid- to upper 20s.

“A month from now, these temperatures would not be that unusual at all,” Simpson said, describing the cold snap as midwinter weather in the middle of November.

He said the weather service encourages area residents to take common-sense precautions such as dressing themselves and their children warmly, and allowing extra travel time for the commute home Tuesday, when the roads could be slippery.

Snow and cold records fell Tuesday from the Plains to the Great Lakes and beyond as an arctic air mass that started in Siberia spilled over a big chunk of the eastern half of the United States, including the normally mild South.

The mid-autumn taste of winter brought record single-digit temperatures to Chicago and environs; set snowfall records in Buffalo and Detroit; dusted cars with snow in Memphis, Tenn.; and froze lakes in Minnesota weeks earlier than usual.


The airmass, which led to more than 1,000 flight cancellations, is expected to break more than 150 daily-temperature records across the eastern half of the country over the next two days.

In Massachusetts, Wednesday should be sunny but breezy, with a northwest wind of 13 to 20 miles per hour and gusts up to 34 miles per hour, the weather service said.

Temperatures are expected to moderate Thursday and Friday, but a cold front is expected to usher in below-normal temperatures later Friday night and Saturday.

Temperatures will remain chilly into next week, with highs mostly in the 30s and 40s and lows in the 20s and 30s. The weather service said it is keeping an eye for an offshore storm early next week, “but it remains uncertain if it will impact our region.”

Material from Globe wire services was used in this report. Martin Finucane of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.