NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) — Winter has returned with a vengeance as an expansive Arctic air mass unleashes on most of the country, including the Lone Star State. Temperatures now through early next week will be some 20 to 30 degrees below average for this time in the year.

The first order of business focuses on the continued threat of freezing rain. While patchy freezing drizzle was around Wednesday morning, a higher impact event is expected tonight through Thursday morning — bringing widespread freezing rain.

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A Winter Weather Advisory has been expanded into Central Texas and forecasts now have ice accumulations of up to one-quarter inch likely, with locally higher amounts possible. The National Weather Service is advising that travel conditions may become hazardous with minor damage to trees and power lines possible.

 

By Wednesday evening, showers will fill-in from the south and become more widespread into the overnight hours. The areas expected to be most impacted in North Texas are near and north of Interstate 20.

Most of North Texas will see sub-freezing temperatures tonight and Thursday morning, which is why the Winter Weather Advisory is in effect.

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Elevated surfaces like bridges, overpasses, and even sidewalks will likely be slick by Thursday morning, so plan ahead and use caution. By Thursday afternoon, temperatures are anticipated to climb above freezing as the rain pushes east and out of the area.

 

After that, it’s all about a colder dose of Arctic air that’s set to arrive starting Friday night and through the day Saturday.

Weekend high temperatures in the 20s and low temperatures in the teens are the main concern — along with wind chill values near zero.

A brief opportunity for a winter mix arrives overnight Friday through early Saturday. This brings the chance of seeing a scattered mix of sleet, freezing rain, and snow.

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Confidence is growing that snow returns to the forecast late on Valentine’s Day and remains to start next week. Stay tuned to CBS 11 Weather as these forecast details become more clear.

Anne Elise Parks