Yes, it really is that cold outside this morning.

An Arctic blast has delivered Maine its coldest weather of the season and is expected to keep temperatures in single digits in most areas through Wednesday morning. But with the wind, temperatures feel like the negative teens along the coast and negative 20s and 30s further inland and north.

“It’s the coldest air we’ve seen in a few years,” said Michael Clair, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray.

“Africa is hot. Maine is cold,” Saada Hassan, left, said while she and Hayat Allaleh helped unload a truck Tuesday morning in Lewiston. Hassan moved to Maine from Djibouti in 2011. Her new business, Mile Wholesale and Retail, will be open within a month. “New year, new life, new business,” said Hassan. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

The last time temperatures dropped this low was in January 2018, according to the weather service. Still, Maine is not expected to set any records for cold weather this go-around.

The previous coldest high temperature for Portland was 4 degrees on Jan. 6, 2018. The forecasted high temperature for Portland on Tuesday is 7 degrees. In Augusta, the record for coldest high temperature was also set on Jan. 6, 2018, when it was one below. It should get up to about 4 degrees in the capital on Tuesday.

The weather service issued a wind chill advisory for most inland and central areas that expired at 10 a.m. Tuesday. It warned that cold wind chills could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes. A wind chill warning is in effect until noon Tuesday for parts of Oxford, Somerset and Franklin counties. In those areas, dangerously cold wind chills could cause frostbite in as little as 10 minutes, according to the weather service.

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A small craft advisory is in effect along the Maine coast until 6 p.m. Tuesday. The weather service s warns that operating a vessel in freezing spray is hazardous and can render boats inoperable. Winds of 15 to 20 knots and seas of 2 to 4 feet are expected throughout the day.

“With extreme cold temperatures coming to Maine this week, I encourage Maine people to take every precaution to stay warm and to check on friends, family and neighbors to ensure they are safe,” Gov. Janet Mills said in a statement. “For those who are concerned about their ability to stay warm, support is available by calling 2-1-1, with warming centers now opening in communities across the state. Please be safe and stay warm.”

Portland city staff are working with a coalition of local service providers and community partners to bring people in from the cold and connect them to shelter. The First Parish Church at 425 Congress St. will be open as a warming shelter from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The space will be staffed by several organizations, including Preble Street, which will provide extra meals to ensure clients get food while they are there.

Preble Street leaders say there is an urgent need for donations of gently used winter gear for people who are living outside. Donations can be dropped off at the agency’s receiving center at 18 Portland St. in Portland from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday and Friday.

Assistant District Attorney Nate Walsh waves to a fellow attorney at he climbs over a snowbank Tuesday in Auburn. Walsh was heading to work at the Androscoggin County Courthouse. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

In Biddeford, the Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center is extending its hours to give people experiencing homelessness a warm place to stay. The center’s overnight warming center will stay open until 1 p.m. Wednesday. Warming centers are open in Saco at the Community Center from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the Saco Transportation Center from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The Maine Emergency Management Agency maintains a list of warming shelters across the state. People may also call 211 for help finding a nearby warming center.

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The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention posted a warning on social media reminding people how to prevent and recognize cold-related illnesses. The Arctic air and brisk winds combine to make dangerously cold wind chills that increase the risk of hypothermia and frostbite, the most common cold-related illnesses in Maine, the CDC said.

People experiencing frostbite are often unaware it is happening because frozen tissue is numb. Signs of frostbite include redness or pain in any skin area, white or grayish-yellow skin, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy and numbness, according to the CDC.

Hypothermia can occur at very cold temperatures, but also when a person is wet and becomes chilled. Signs of hypothermia in adults include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness. In infants, symptoms include bright red, cold skin and very low energy. If a person’s temperature is below 95 degrees, they should get medical attention immediately, according to the CDC.

A painting of a dog basks in the sun during a frigid morning Tuesday in Lewiston. The portrait was created by Jeanelle Demers. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

When going outside in extreme cold, the weather service recommends people wear three layers of tops and jackets, including one insulating layer, and two layers of pants. They should also wear a warm hat, face mask, outer layer to keep out wind, gloves and waterproof boots.

MEMA recommends that people make sure alternate heat sources are in proper working condition and properly installed and that they follows manufacturers’ guidelines. Heaters should be kept at least 3 feet away from anything that can catch fire. People should  never use the oven to heat their home because it can be a fire hazard, according to the agency.

The region should start to get a little relief from the frigid temperatures as the wind dies off Tuesday night, said Clair, the weather service meteorologist. And, he said, there is a silver lining: by Wednesday and Thursday, temperatures will rebound back into the 30s.

A man walks across the Longley Bridge between Lewiston and Auburn as the temperature hovered slightly above zero Tuesday morning. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

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