Advocate staff file photo by BRYAN TUCK -- University of Louisiana at Lafayette students dressed for the cold weather cross St. Mary Boulevard at Rex Street on campus last month in Lafayette.

After reports of heavy sleet Thursday morning on Interstate 49 and U.S. 190, State Police are urging drivers to exercise caution as weather conditions continue to deteriorate.

Additional troopers have been dispatched to areas north of Interstate 10 in Lafayette, St. Landry and Evangeline Parish, where multiple weather-related crashes have been reported, State Police said.

A hard freeze is expected in central Louisiana Thursday night as a cold front continues to move through the region, with wind chills approaching 13 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

The forecast also includes a wind advisory in effect across south Louisiana through 6 p.m. Thursday, with winds from 20-25 mph possible.

The abrupt cold front followed a day of temperatures in the high 70s on Wednesday and the icy temperatures are expected to continue for the next couple of days.

Temperatures dropped into the 30s in Lafayette and Baton Rouge Wednesday night and are expected to drop even lower Thursday night — 27 degrees in Baton Rouge and 26 degrees in Lafayette.

New Orleans will fare a bit better with lows only reaching 52 degrees Wednesday night and 37 degrees Thursday evening, but it will still be a big change from the 76 degrees shining down on the city Wednesday.

The whiplash change in temperature is courtesy of a strong cold front that will be moving through the area, according to the National Weather Service.

With some rain also in the forecast, there is a very low risk of light freezing rain possible in southwest Mississippi and some parishes north of Baton Rouge. Even if freezing rain does appear in these areas, little to no ice accumulation is expected, according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures are expected to remain cooler through Friday and Saturday with temperatures in the 40s and 50s, along with chances of rain across south Louisiana for much of the weekend.