One of the coldest arctic blasts in more that 20 years has already hit the Midwest hard, and is working its way into the area. While south Georgia won't see the subzero temperatures which our Midwestern counterparts are enduring, it's still going to be cold enough to get people's attention. (Staff Photo: Terry Lewis)
ALBANY — With most of the country plunged into a deep freezer, Southwest Georgia is also preparing for a second straight night of sub-20 degree temperatures.
One of the coldest arctic blasts in more that 20 years has already hit the Midwest hard, and is still working its way through the area. While south Georgia hasn’t faced the subzero temperatures which the Midwest is enduring, it’s still been cold enough to get peoples’ attention.
A low of 17 was expected for early today and was compounded by wind gusts of around 25 mph, which is expected to drop the wind chill to around 10 degrees. Today’s high is expected to be 34 and the National Weather Service predicted Monday that tonight’s low would also hit 17. Wednesday’s high is expected to be 49, with a low of 31, the Weather Service said. A warming trend begins Thursday, with highs climbing into the 60s this weekend.
However, according to the National Weather Service, the low numbers are a far cry from Albany’s record low of 1 degree set on Jan. 21-22, 1998.
Still, area officials are taking precautions to protect man and beast from the frigid temperatures.
Chehaw officials announced that the wild animal habitat was shut down to visitors Monday and today.
“Due to the current extreme cold weather, the zoo at Chehaw Park will be closed Monday and Tuesday,” Morgan Seegmueller, public relations coordinator for Chehaw, said Monday. “Most of the animals in the zoo have heated buildings, boxes, and shelters that they are kept in during our cold winter nights.”
Seegmueller said the Park’s animals would ride out the freezing temperatures in their shelters.
“In weather this severe, when it remains near freezing even during the daytime, we need to leave animals inside with access to their heated shelters,” he said. “As a result, most of the animal exhibits will be empty as the animals, like many of us humans, ride out this extreme weather event. We apologize for any inconvenience, and look forward to seeing you later in the week in warmer weather.”
The Dougherty County School System is also taking precautions.
“We maintain regular communications with Jim Vaught, director of the Dougherty County Emergency Management Agency, who advises the superintendent about weather or other conditions that may present a danger to students and staff,” DCSS Public Information Director R. D. Harter said.
On Monday morning, a decision was made that school would be held in Dougherty County School System on the regular schedule.
“Fortunately, the cold temperatures are not expected to be accompanied by sleet or snow,” Harter said. “The facilities department maintains a heating and air-conditioning maintenance schedule that keeps those systems in proper working order.
“The staff in that department is available after hours, if needed, to make emergency repairs. The transportation department has implemented a cold weather bus starting plan so buses are scheduled to be started and warmed up earlier than normal so that route schedules may be run on time.”
Harter also urged parents to make sure their children are dressed appropriately for the low temperatures.
“There may be unanticipated challenges to arise due to below-freezing temperatures the next two days,” He said. “If unexpected problems occur, we ask parents, students and staff to be patient as we work to correct those. We also ask parents to make sure students are dressed with proper layers and protection from this anticipated cold weather.”
School officials added they would open school doors earlier than normal during the cold snap so early arrivals would not be exposed to the elements while waiting for the doors to open.”
Albany Fire Department Chief James Carswell said his department was anticipating “increased activity” over the period and advised residents to use caution when heating their homes.
“We always advise people to be be careful with their heat, especially with space heaters,” Carswell said. “They are not designed for prolonged use. We expect to see increased activity, because these cold snaps always bring spikes.”
Vaught advised people to be aware of the weather and the potential for ice forming underneath and on bridges.
“I’ve been in touch with our partners at the DCSS, Salvation Army and American Red Cross,” Vaught said. “The Red Cross is not going to open a shelter because we feel the Salvation Army can handle any overflow right now. We are advising people to be aware of wind chill and to dress in layers. Also watch out for black ice on and under bridges. Also never use your stove as a heat source and be cautious with space heaters.”