The winter storm that is slamming North and Central Texas is also being felt in the Houston area.  Low temperatures in Houston are expected to drop to at or near freezing this weekend, with daytime highs only reaching the low 40s.  That is considered well below normal for Houston weather, but Local 2 Chief Meteorologist Frank Billingsley says the worst of the cold will be to the north of Houston.  "There's a chance up to the north, say a line from Brenham to Huntsville, that you'll reach freezing and any rain that has fallen freezes on bridges and overpasses," he tells KTRH.  That could mean treacherous driving conditions, especially in Montgomery and Liberty Counties.  However, Billingsley doesn't think it will get quite as cold in Houston.  "For Harris County, bring your plants in, protect your pets and people," he says.  "It probably won't be an issue for pipes, but I can't guarantee that yet."

This weekend's cold might just be an opening act for what's to come.  "Next week we're getting another surge of Arctic air, and we could definitely see some mid and upper 20s in Southeast Texas," says Billingsley.  Those conditions raise the possibility of what's known as a hard freeze.  "The definition of a hard freeze is 25 degrees or lower for two hours or more," says Billingsley.  "And that is possible next week up to the north of us." 

The bottom line is that most of Texas will be dealing with unusually cold temperatures for the next several days.  Governor Rick Perry has issued an emergency proclamation in advance of the storm.  The governor's declaration activates the state Emergency Operations Center, and positions state military forces and support vehicles across North and Central Texas to help rescue stranded motorists.  Texans can call 2-1-1 for updated information on winter weather resources across the state.