MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Santa had better bundle up. There is an Arctic blast on the way in the Memphis area this week.

Bitterly cold and dry conditions are expected through the holiday weekend, with lows in the single digits and teens, and highs only in the 20s and near freezing through at least Christmas Day.

Sunday night’s low will be around 29. Wind chill will also fall below zero, so start thinking now about exposed pipes and pets outside.

Clouds will increase Sunday night as a weak disturbance draws moisture up from the south ahead of cold air arriving from the plains. Weather models indicate a wintry mix in Arkansas, but for the rest of us mainly light rain chances on Monday and primarily to our south.

There is a slight chance of rain and snow before 9 a.m. Monday.

Wednesday is the first official day of winter, and the weather gets really interesting on Thursday. It will get dangerously cold with the arrival of Arctic air. Friday morning’s low is forecast to reach the single digits — 9 degrees.

Some models show a wintry mix on Thursday and Friday, but others don’t. WREG meteorologists will track the timing of the cold air and how much moisture will be present.

Forecasters are warning of treacherous holiday travel and life-threatening cold for much of the nation as an arctic air mass blows into the already-frigid southern United States.

“We’re looking at much-below normal temperatures, potentially record-low temperatures leading up to the Christmas holiday,” said Zack Taylor, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

The “rare and hazardous arctic air mass will likely bring extreme and prolonged freezing conditions for southern Mississippi and southeast Louisiana,” the National Weather Service in a special weather statement Sunday.