Bring in the pets and plants and take out the winter jackets — the first hard freeze of the season is expected tonight.
The strongest cold front of the season will arrive this morning, with temperatures expected to dip into the low 40s by this morning and remain in the low to mid-40s during the day, said Nick Hampshire, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.
As the cold weather moves in, it will bring north winds between 20 and 25 miles per hour, decreasing to 15 to 20 miles per hour in the afternoon.
In the evening the temperatures will drop until they reach freezing by 10 or 11 p.m. and could fall another 10 degrees by morning, Hampshire said.
“We have forecasted lows around 22 degrees, so it’s not only going to be the first freeze, but it’s going to be a pretty deep freeze,” he said. “It’s pretty abnormal. Normally your first freeze of the season is 31 or 32, so it’s pretty abnormal to have the first freeze be a deep one.”
The freezing temperatures will remain until about 9 or 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Denton area residents should be mindful of the freeze, he said, and should remember to bring in pets, sensitive plants, and wrap any pipes that are exposed and not insulated.
Tender plants such as annuals that are still in bloom and perennials should be brought inside before the freeze hits, said Karin Chadwick of Meadors Nursery.
Any kind of tropical plants should be moved inside or covered as well, she said.
“The biggest thing is to cover what you can’t take in,” she said. “It’s always better to be safe than sorry.”
For in-ground plants, Chadwick suggested watering them in the early evening before freezing temperatures hit to help protect the roots and keep them warm.
Outdoor pets should also be brought inside overnight, said Stephanie Daniels, a communications specialist at SPCA Texas.
“We just always recommend in hot or cold weather to keep your pets inside,” she said. “Especially if it reaches 22 degrees — that is very cold, even for thicker-coat dogs.”
When it gets into freezing temperatures, Daniels also recommended not to leave your animal inside the car, and if you have a smaller breed dog like a Chihuahua, make sure it stays warm.
“It looks silly, but little dogs need sweaters,” she said. “Small dogs tend to get colder easier.”
The cold air will remain in the area for a few days, as temperatures will gradually ease up to more seasonable weather. Wednesday is expected to have a high in the high 40s, with Thursday in the lower 50s. Friday may reach about 60 degrees, Hampshire said.
JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.