An incoming arctic air mass is expected to blow "the coldest air of the season" across much of the U.S. in the days ahead of Christmas, bringing dangerously cold temperatures and threatening treacherous travel conditions for the holidays, forecasters warned.
The polar air will bring "extreme and prolonged freezing conditions for southern Mississippi and southeast Louisiana," the National Weather Service (NWS) said in a special weather statement Sunday.
"We’re looking at much-below normal temperatures, potentially record-low temperatures leading up to the Christmas holiday," said NWS meteorologist Zack Taylor.
Mississippi may get blasted by the coldest air the state has seen in at least five years, FOX Weather reported.
By Thursday night, forecasters predict temperatures will plunge as low as 13 degrees in Jackson, Mississippi, while Nashville may see temperatures drop to around 5 degrees.
Temperatures in the Northern Rockies, central and northern Plains and the Upper Midwest were expected to hit subzero, according to the outlet.
On Tuesday, low temperatures could reach minus 30 degrees across parts of Montana and North Dakota, temperatures that threaten frostbite in as little as 10 minutes, forecasters said.
The strong arctic front is predicted to march across the eastern two-thirds of the country in the days before Christmas, potentially bringing "the coldest air of the season," according to the latest forecasts from the federal Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.
After the Northeast was already blasted the with an earlier storm system that buried parts of the region under two feet of snow, the center warned that the incoming arctic chill will reach much of the Eastern U.S. and the Gulf Coast by Friday and into the weekend.
Northern Florida cities such as Jacksonville, Tallahassee and Pensacola have predicted lows in the 20s on Christmas Eve, with highs of about 40.
"Our confidence is growing, and what that means is that there's more agreement on the forecast data, so the significant winter storm becomes more likely," FOX Weather meteorologist Amy Freeze said. "The timing right now is that this could last into Christmas weekend. For some, it's a nightmare. For others, this could be dreaming of a white Christmas come true."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.