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Sunday became the warmest January day on record in Boston with 74 degrees recorded

The swan boat dock at the Boston Public Garden was a great place to be Saturday. And Sunday, too, when temperatures reached 73 degrees in the city.
The swan boat dock at the Boston Public Garden was a great place to be Saturday. And Sunday, too, when temperatures reached 73 degrees in the city.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Sunday marked the warmest January day on record in Boston, reaching 74 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

It was just the fourth time a January day reached the 70-degree mark since record keeping began in 1872. Sunday’s temperature bested the previous record high for the month (72 degrees in 1950), according to the weather service.

The third was Saturday, another record-smashing day. The first was in 1876, according to the weather service.

Sunday was even warmer in Norwood, where the mercury reached 75, according to meteorologists.

The next highest temperature for Jan. 12 was 61 degrees, which the weather service said was reached three times: in 1913, 1975, and 2017.

Sunday’s low temperature was nearly record-breaking for the date as well. Temperatures bottomed out at 41 degrees — just one degree below the record high of 42, according to meteorologist William Babcock.

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The overnight highest low record for Jan. 11 was broken, with temperatures bottoming out at 49 degrees (compared to 45 in 1983), the weather service said.

Sunday, after a light morning rain cleared, crowds began to gather in the city’s green spaces.

Boston Public Garden appeared as crowded as on a summer’s day, with families and couples clustered on picnic blankets and solitary readers curled up beneath the willows on the banks of the lagoon.

The park was largely sheltered from the whipping winds that reached 41 miles per hour in Boston on Sunday. But those winds caused problems in at least half a dozen towns, including Billerica, Charlton, and Duxbury where officials tweeted reports of trees or power lines down Sunday morning.

Karen Rebaza, 41, of East Boston said she dragged her family away from their usual winter Sunday pastimes — video games and reading for her three children, watching Hallmark Channel for her, home improvement project for her husband — to visit the garden where a year ago to the day, they had taken a photo while walking on the frozen lagoon.

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She texted family in Guatemala City, where it was nearly the same temperature on Sunday. “Everyone is impressed,” she said.

“It’s wonderful, but it’s worrying,” she said, alluding to climate change.

Lihi, 38, who moved to Newton from Israel in 2017, was also comparing Boston’s unexpected balminess to normally warmer places, and said she had texted about 20 people back home with the news. “They all thought I meant 20 [degrees] in Farenheit,” said Lihi, who declined to give her last name. “My father told me ‘don’t go out.’ ”

But as everyone knew, colder weather will soon return. While the coming week will be relatively mild, temperatures will be down near freezing as next weekend draws near.

Autumn Jones, a senior at Berklee College of Music, came downtown from Brighton to sell “nice summery clothes” to a vintage clothing store to scrap together enough money for dinner.

The 21-year-old singer from New Jersey said she wouldn’t have been able to get much use from them for a while anyway. “Inevitably when it does snow again, it will probably last until March,” she said.

By 4 p.m., temperatures had already begun a steep drop toward the 30 degrees expected by 5 a.m. Monday, according to the weather service. Highs are expected to be slightly above average though much cooler than the weekend, with temperatures likely near 38 Monday, 43 Tuesday, 49 Wednesday, 42 Thursday, and 29 Friday, forecasters said.

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And Thursday and Saturday could bring rain and snow, according to the weather service.

But for the moment Sunday, it was the warmest January day anyone had ever experienced in Boston.

Alicia Coto, 22, of Brighton sat on a bench near the water, watching the crowds and writing in her journal.

As an engineer who is usually very practical in her writing, the warm weather had brought a “flowery” style to her entries.

“I’ve been journaling about everything that’s worrying me,” she said. “. . . and now I’m like ‘everything is amazing.’ ”

Behind her, a star magnolia tree scarred by initials of dozens of lovers had begun poking out what appeared to be fuzzy green buds.


Lucas Phillips can be reached at lucas.phillips@globe.com.