TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Tampa Bay area got its first winter weather alert of the season Thursday morning as it braces for cold air to move into the region over the holiday weekend.

The National Weather Service issued a hard freeze watch for Citrus, Pasco and Hernando Counties, which will go into effect Friday evening through Saturday morning. Parts of the area could see temperatures below freezing with lows in the mid-20s, according to Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Leigh Spann.

A freeze watch will be in effect for Hillsborough, inland Manatee, Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties on Friday night. Those areas could see lows in the low 30s. Pets and sensitive plants should be kept indoors.

Bitter cold air behind a cold front is expected to blast much of the United States with dangerously low temperatures.

The front will move into Tampa Bay with a line of showers Friday morning. Temperatures should be in the 60s in the morning, then drop to the 50s in the afternoon, and will be in the 30s and 20s on Saturday morning. Highs will be in the upper 40s for most of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.