HOUSTON -

An arctic cold front has pushed off the coast of southeast Texas, initiating a prolonged period of very cold weather for Houston and the rest of the region.

Temperatures through Thursday afternoon will continue to fall through the 40s. A brisk north wind will keep the wind chill, or "feels like" temperature in the 30s.

Periods of drizzle and light rain will be on the increase Thursday night and Friday. Temperatures on Friday will hold near 40 degrees in the morning and drop into the 30s by afternoon. High winds between 15 and 25 mph will keep wind chill readings in the 20s all day.

Patchy light freezing rain is possible this weekend north and west of Houston, especially Saturday night. Accumulations will be minimal, but with temperatures dipping below freezing any wet roadways could turn icy Saturday night and Sunday morning.  Bridges and overpasses will be the most hazardous if light freezing rain occurs.

Reinforcing cold air will push into the area Monday, bringing below-freezing overnight temperatures throughout southeast Texas.  Precipitation is not expected, as drier air keeps freezing rain, sleet, and snow chances near zero.  The cold air will remain in place at least through Thursday.