WORCESTER – Don’t rush out and buy a team of sled dogs yet, but up in Fairbanks, Alaska, they are enjoying warmer weather than those of us in the deep freeze of Central Massachusetts.

By Saturday, it is expected to be 18 degrees warmer in Fairbanks than in Worcester, as the mercury here dips well below zero. The flipped differences in weather between Worcester and Fairbanks were highlighted Tuesday in a tweet by the National Weather Service.

Friday and Saturday are expected to be bitterly cold in Worcester, on the heels of a blustery Thursday snowstorm. It is not expected to bring with it a lot of precipitation, but wind gusts could top 30 mph, according to William Babcock of the National Weather Service.

Central Massachusetts has seen record cold over the past week and should see more of the same into next week. Long-range, the region might see temperatures at or just above freezing on Monday, but the high Saturday will struggle to reach 4. The low will be minus 8 in Worcester, colder to the north of the city.

The cold Tuesday caused a few school closings and delays, and forced some homeowners to run their faucets constantly to avoid frozen pipes. The Dudley post office was closed because of a heating system malfunction. The office at 124 West Main St. will be closed until the heating system can be replaced. Until it is reopened, customers with postal boxes in Dudley can retrieve their mail at the Webster post office, 339 Main St., Webster. There will be no impact on street delivery of mail in Dudley.

Tahanto Regional Middle High School in Boylston was closed Tuesday after the heat in the building dropped 30 degrees overnight. The heat was back on Tuesday morning, and the school was expected to reopen Wednesday. Lack of heat  forced the closing of the Thayer Memorial Library in Lancaster. In Fitchburg, two schools were closed because of weather-related issues. Reingold Elementary School was closed Tuesday because of frozen water pipes, and a broken water pipe forced the closing of Crocker Elementary School for the rest of the week.

Other schools saw delayed openings, including the Tantasqua Regional high school and junior high school in Sturbridge. Opening for both schools was delayed because of busing issues. Quabbin Regional School District delayed its opening to allow more time to warm up buses.

The cold weather at least didn’t cause any problems with the Worcester schools’ morning bus run Tuesday, although it did create a little more work for the district and its busing provider, Durham School Service, according to John Hennessy, the schools’ transportation director.

Durham “had a couple minor breakdowns,” he said, but the company had some backup buses on standby to replace them. Overall, Tuesday’s morning pickup was “as close to normal” as possible, he said.

In preparation for this week, the schools’ transportation department sent some workers out over the holiday break to turn on the buses’ engines and make sure there were no cold-related issues, according to Mr. Hennessy. They did the same thing early Tuesday morning.

Some Leominster buses had trouble starting, but the problem did not delay the start of school. Chris Silverman, assistant to the superintendent of schools, said some students were about a half-hour late, but there were no serious problems.

During this cold spell, Worcester Regional Airport has consistently had the coldest wind chills of any airport in southern New England. Tuesday morning was no exception. Wind chills at the airport were minus 19. It has seen minus 30 wind chills during the past week. The airport is one of 1,000 locations around the country with Automated Surface Observing Systems, which provide a complete analysis of the weather at the airport and report it 24 hours a day to the National Weather Service office in Boston.

Scott O’Connell of the Telegram & Gazette staff contributed to this report.

LATEST FORECAST FOR CENTRAL MASS.

[Worcester, MA or Fairbanks, AK] Do you want to escape the bitter cold? Not too often Worcester, MA features a 5 day forecast that is colder than Fairbanks, Alaska. Enjoy the “relatively” mild weather @NWSFairbanks. pic.twitter.com/0enIDVtp8Z

— NWS Boston (@NWSBoston) January 2, 2018//
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