Snow Squalls and Bitter Cold: How We’ll Feel the Polar Vortex in Boston

A system that brought dangerous Arctic chills to the Midwest is headed our way.

wind chill national weather service

Map via NWS Boston

A weather system that has blasted the Midwest with bone-chilling Arctic wind is quickly making its way to Boston (thanks a lot, polar vortex), promising to deliver potentially dangerous snow squalls and cold.

The National Weather System in Norton has been getting the word out today about snow squalls that have been seen along the outer edge of the ultra-cold air, and which it warns could arrive quickly and make driving hazardous Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s in central Pennsylvania now,” says meteorologist Bill Simpson, reached by phone at around 10 a.m. “In a brief period a lot of people may be traveling in blue skies and then in the next few minutes see total whiteout conditions.”

Squalls are expected to arrive sometime between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. in Boston. The NWS advises drivers to pull over when they hit, and wait for them to pass.

In the morning, we’ll see the start of what Simpson calls a “glancing blow of extreme arctic air.” Wind chills Wednesday night into Thursday morning could plunge as low as minus-15, the National Weather Service forecasts.

In the meantime, wind chills in Western Mass near minus-25 have already been cause for concern, even if it’s not as intense as in other states, including the 10 where they even stopped delivering the mail, or Chicago, where they’ve had to set their train tracks on fire.

“It’s not nearly as bad as the upper Midwest but pretty bad if you’re not used to it,” Simpson says.

A wind chill advisory has been issued for most of Massachusetts, while a wind chill warning is in effect for the state’s western edge. So it’s best to be cautious, and be sure to wear extra layers.

“If you’re not dressed properly you can lose body heat real fast in the wind chills this evening,” Simpson says.