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Frigid Air Is Here, But Thaw Is On The Horizon

BOSTON — The frigid air that broke records across the Midwest Monday has made its way to Massachusetts.

Tuesday's high temperatures. (Click to enlarge)

Tuesday’s high temperatures. (Click to enlarge)

“Monday’s subzero temperatures broke records in Chicago, which set a record for the date at minus 16, and Fort Wayne, Ind., where the mercury fell to 13 below,” The Associated Press reports. “Records also fell in Oklahoma and Texas, and wind chills across the region were 40 below and colder.”

It won’t be that bad here, but according to meteorologist David Epstein, wind chill values will frequently fall below zero across the state through Thursday — getting down as low as 10 below in Worcester.

“During the next couple of days, highs will be well below average and overnight lows will fall into the single numbers,” Epstein says. “The wind has been quite strong and it’s making it feel even colder outside.”

There is good news. Epstein forecasts a “January thaw” is on the way. “Starting Friday and continuing for several days, highs will break the freezing mark,” he said. “By the weekend, all of us will enjoy temperatures in the 40s.”

Before the warmer air arrives, The Associated Press predicts some 187 million people across the country will feel the effects of the “polar vortex” — the “dangerous blast of polar air” responsible for the nationwide chill.

“[The polar vortex] is simply a semi-permanent circulation of wind in the higher levels of the atmosphere,” Epstein explains. It’s usually found over the planet’s geographical poles, but this week “a piece of the polar vortex moved south and carried with it the bitter cold air much of the country is experiencing.”

Freezing temperatures and other bad weather across the country over the past week caused problems for air travelers and forced JetBlue to suspend most of its Northeast operations Monday evening, stopping all flights in and out of Logan and three other airports after 5 p.m. The airline began ramping up operations at 10 a.m. Tuesday, with full service expected to return by 3 p.m.

While temperatures this low can be dangerous, that’s not stopping some people from trying some cold weather experiments, which NPR’s Eyder Peralta explains in this blog post. NPR’s Morning Edition was also looking for what listeners across the country were doing in the cold. They’re collecting response in a Storify:

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