The front we’ve been talking about for days has arrived in Southeast Texas.
HOUSTON — The arctic blast we’ve been talking about for the last few days has arrived in Southeast Texas and is bringing below-freezing temperatures heading into the Christmas holiday weekend.
Both state and local officials have urged residents to prepare for the drastic drop in temps by protecting their families, homes, vehicles, and pets before the hard freeze takes effect.
WEATHER TIMELINE: Arctic air to bring hard freeze for three nights
LIVE CONDITIONS: Current temperatures and weather alerts
Watches and warnings in effect
A hard freeze warning will go into effect for all of Southeast Texas starting Thursday at 6 p.m. It will last until Saturday morning.
A wind chill warning will go into effect for all of Southeast Texas starting Thursday at 6 p.m. and last until Friday morning.
A wind advisory will go into effect for all of Southeast Texas starting noon Thursday until midnight.
Monitor the current temperatures and weather alerts in the live stream below:
What is a hard freeze warning?
The National Weather Service issues a hard freeze warning when temperatures are expected to drop below 28°F for an extended period of time, killing most types of commercial crops and residential plants.
What is a wind chill warning?
The National Weather Service issues a wind chill warning when dangerously cold wind chill values are expected or occurring. If you are in an area with a wind chill warning, avoid going outside during the coldest parts of the day. If you do go outside, dress in layers, cover exposed skin and make sure at least one other person knows your whereabouts. Update them when you arrive safely at your destination.
Meteorologist Kim Castro explains what makes up wind chill in the video below:
Power outage tracker
Here is a look at the outage tracker from CenterPoint Energy.
Preparing for the freeze
Time is running out with temperatures expected to reach freezing early this evening, Here are some ways to prepare for the big drop in temperatures.
Protecting pipes – City of Houston leaders are urging homeowners to protect their pipes, especially if they have plans to head out of town for Christmas.
Drip vs no-drip faucets – The answer is actually quite complicated and really depends on where you live. The City of Houston and Harris County have completely opposite recommendations on what to do with your faucets.
Old house vs. new house preparations – Depending on the type of home you live in, you may be taking different preparations than your neighbor.
Pets – The Houston Humane Society is reminding residents to keep their pets and strays safe and to be in compliance with the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act.
Protecting cars – When it comes to freezing temperatures, check your battery, engine, and tires.
Space heater safety – The Harris County Fire Marshal advises residents to use the three-foot rule. That means keeping a three-foot perimeter around space heaters and fireplaces. You’ll especially want to keep these devices clear of objects and pets.
Fireplace and chimney safety – Mariam Rozenbaum, of Brushers Chimneys, said one of the most important things to do before lighting your fireplace is to make sure your damper or flue is open and cleared.
Warming centers – Many places across the Houston area are opening their doors to serve as a warming centers for those looking to escape the frigid cold weather.
Stay with KHOU 11 News for the latest on the artic blast throughout the holiday weekend:
6 p.m. – Houston officially hit the freezing mark. Bush IAH had a temperature of 32 degrees at 6 p.m., then 30 degrees at 6:15 p.m.
5:14 p.m. – CenterPoint Energy says high winds can knock power out as the front moves in. If you see lines down, don’t touch them. Call 911 and then call CenterPoint.
4:40 p.m. – CenterPoint Energy is reporting 9,171 customers without power. That’s down from just over 12,000 a few minutes earlier.
12:40 P.M. – Meteorologist Kim Castro said the arctic blast is coming in as a mainly dry polar front. However, out ahead of it a little moisture is being rung out from the low clouds. Temps are in the 50s for now with a sprinkle mixed in. Bitterly cold air moves in after 5 p.m.
10:15 A.M. – Meteorologist Tim Pandjis said the temperature has already dropped 60 degrees in Denver from yesterday to today as Southeast Texas keeps an eye on the artic air heading to the Houston area.
8 A.M. – Meteorologist Chita Craft was answering viewer questions ahead of the hard freeze and chill warnings go into effect. The good news, especially for travelers, is that winter precipitation is not expected, meaning that we will not see ice, sleet or snow.
6 A.M. – The Houston area is less than 12 hours away from when the hard freeze and wind chill warnings go into effect. Residents are urged to make any last-minute preparations this morning before the arctic air arrives.