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However it feels when you go outside today, know this: It’s probably the warmest it will be for awhile.

After overnight showers, an Arctic front dove through southeast Texas this morning, and gusty winds are ushering frigid air into the Houston metro area and slowly driving temperatures from near 50 degrees into the low to mid-20s by Friday morning.

The National Weather Service has put the area under a wind advisory until 6 p.m.

And then it gets worse.

Forecasters with the Houston/Galveston office of the weather service say highs on Friday will likely barely reach above the freezing level, and Friday night’s low temperature should dip near 20 degrees for inland areas. Saturday night will be nearly as cold.

That’s cold enough to threaten most outdoor plants and all pets, and just cold enough to put exposed pipes in attics and beneath homes at significant risk. The weather service has issued a hard freeze warning from 9 p.m. tonight until 9 a.m. Sunday.

If there’s a bright side to the Arctic blast, it’s that today’s scattered showers should ebb before temperatures dip below freezing, leaving relatively little chance for an ice storm to make for nightmarish commutes Friday.

Sleet is possible today, however, for a short time period, just to the north and west of Houston.

Houston is likely to see temperatures it hasn’t since at least 1996, when it got down to 19 degrees.

By the time temperatures begin to moderate Sunday, forecasters say, Houston’s average temperatures for January will likely be running 13 or 14 degrees below normal. The average temperature range for this time of year is between the low 40s and low 60s.

A “warm-up” early next week is expected to take high temperatures into the lower 50s, still about 10 degrees below normal. A slight chance of rain is forecast.