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Cold snap to continue through weekend
Official: Stay off frozen bodies of water
Frozen fountain
This fountain in front of the Los Maguey restaurant on Castleberry Road is completely frozen from top to bottom. - photo by Jim Dean

The high temperature on Thursday was 29 degrees, and freezing temperatures are something county residents have been dealing with all week.

Forsyth County, along with the rest of the state, has been in the throes of a cold snap recently. Lauren Merritt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, said the weather isn’t breaking any records but it’s still quite cold.

“Getting into the winter, it is not uncommon to see these cold of temperatures since we’re not near record lows, per se,” she said. “So, it’s not like we see these temperatures every single week in the winter, but we’ve just been in this period of cold weather.”

The weather situation in Forsyth County is better than in southeast Georgia, where Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for 28 southeastern counties on Tuesday. 

Locally, the weather is expected to stay cold through the weekend, and Merritt said windy weather is also expected. She encouraged folks to bundle up. 

“Unfortunately, we’re going to have this chilly weather as we get into the weekend,” Merritt said. “I think we’ll warm up just a little bit for the start of next week, but the colder temperatures will most likely return again.”

As of press time, high temperatures are expected to be in the 50s in the early part of next week.

One usual cold weather pain in Forsyth County is icy roads, but dry weather has made that less of an issue than usual.

While the roads aren’t expected to be icy, Forsyth County Fire Department Division Chief Jason Shivers said he “cannot stress enough” for residents, particularly kids, and pets to avoid walking on any partially frozen bodies of water.

“It never, ever gets cold enough long enough in Georgia to freeze a body of water thick enough to safely venture out onto it,” Shivers said. “Just because it has the appearance of being frozen doesn’t mean that ice is thick enough to walk out onto.”

Shivers said retention and detention ponds in neighborhoods were of particular concern and those who fell in water in the cold snap were “immediately at risk.”

“Because they are fairly small and fairly shallow, they will get a thin layer of ice over the top of them easily because they’re typically not flowing,” he said. “And, because those neighborhoods are heavily populated with children — of course, that’s where families live — it’s a draw for the children to want to go onto it and to test it and see if they can get on that ice.”

Shivers also had advice for those using heating devices other than their homes’ heating system. For those using space heaters, he said to keep children and combustibles away, not to cover up extensions cords and to read the manual.

He said fireplaces should be inspected and swept by a professional each year to make sure the chimney is free of cracks and flammable debris.

For homes that have not yet gotten rid of live Christmas trees, Shivers said the trees have likely stopped taking water, are dry and flammable and should not be around any heating appliance.

An issue firefighters have encountered this week with local businesses: sprinkler pipes freezing and rupturing, particularly in commercial buildings with high ceilings and poor insulation. 

“What causes that to happen in cold weather is pipes freezing and then thawing out causing that broken pipe to start flowing water and then triggering the fire alarms system,” he said. “It has to be treated as a real fire event until we can arrive on the scene and determine otherwise.” 

Shivers said addressing those issues ahead of time will both help save the business money in the long run from inventory or items not being damaged by water and allow firefighters to respond to other calls. 

One local company took its own steps to keep open and warm. 

Anthony Perry, manager at Castle Car Wash, said employees “aren’t too keen” on working outside in this weather but it was mostly business as usual since heaters are used to keep water from freezing.

“Obviously,  the amount of cars you have is a little less because customers don’t want to be out in this weather vacuuming out their own cars and we can’t do the insides too much because our cleaning supplies freeze as they get out of the bottles,” Perry said. “As far as the exterior washes, those numbers still stand. Even with freezing weather, we’re doing 200-300 cars.”