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Its snow joke: Forecast is frigid
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Forsyth County News
Safety tips for heating

• Don’t leave temporary sources of heat on for long periods of time.

• Keep fresh batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

• Only burn items intended to be burned in the source, such as wood in a fireplace.

• Avoid using kerosene heaters indoors.

• Make sure heating systems are maintained, serviced and cleaned.

Keep pipes from freezing

• Disconnect hoses from spigots.

• Open outside pipes and put freeze caps on them.

• Keep cabinets open to provide heat for inside pipes.

• Turn on hot and cold knobs to a drip from faucets.

• Make sure pipes are well insulated.
The new year is off to a frigid start, one that has Forsyth County residents bundling up and bracing for snow.

With low temperatures near 10 degrees and highs in the 30s, the weather is some of the coldest the area has seen in some time, said Mike Leary, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.

“It’s about 15 to 17 degrees below normal temperature and not very typical really, but it does happen maybe once every 10 years,” he said.

Accompanying the frigid conditions is the possibility of snow flurries Thursday and Friday.

Residents can expect a 40 percent chance of snow during the day Thursday and a 30 percent change that night. One to 2 inches is possible, Leary said.

A northern high-pressure buildup “pumping cold air down on us” will keep most of the country cold until at least Saturday, Leary said.

A warm-up could come next week, when the forecast calls for a high of 51 on Monday. The weather should be closer to normal for the rest of the winter, he said.

For this week, however, the frigid air raises safety concerns, including heating fires and gas leaks.

Subfreezing temperatures also put water pipes at risk of bursting, and a few in the county have done just that.

Director Tim Perkins said the county water and sewer department has fielded many calls about water pipes.

“We do get dispatched to a lot of homes where we try to see if there’s something wrong on our side,” he said. “We do see a lot of extra calls when the service lines to the homes freeze.”

If the problem is not on the utility’s side, customers will have to contact a plumber.

Often, the meter can be thawed with a hair dryer, Perkins said.

He advised against using torches, citing a resident who left the torch running in the meter’s plastic box, which started a fire Sunday.

Capt. Jason Shivers said the Forsyth County Fire Department saw an increase in calls about freezing pipes starting Friday.

“Typically, those start showing up in the afternoon once the temperature has risen to at or just above freezing and water starts flowing back through these pipes,” he said. “That’s when it finds the crack that was formed by the ice. ... The very unfortunate ones are when it has happened when no one’s home.”

Bobby Amos, owner of Bobby Amos Waterworks, said residents can take some precautions.

“Don’t go to the store and leave the garage door open because it’ll freeze the pipes and by the time you get back you’ll have busted pipes,” Amos said. “We saw a lot of that last year.”

The wind factor can increase chances of frozen pipes.

With freezing temperatures and gusts on Thursday predicted to reach 20 mph, Amos expects more work when the weather warms up and the water in the pipes starts to thaw.

As duty calls, local service workers must find ways to brave the outdoors.

Long johns, coveralls and layers of clothing warm are staples for Amos, who said he can be outside for hours at a time.

Water department employees also have had some rough days and nights out in the cold.

“They’re used to it, and it is bad,” Perkins said. “But they’re a tough bunch of people ... they get it done regardless of what the weather condition is.”

Outdoor workers aren’t the only ones dressing warmly.

Local stores have seen a rush on anything that will keep customers warm.

Space heaters and fire logs have been increasingly popular with the weather, said Steve Reid, manager of Super Target in Cumming.

“Obviously, heaters, fire logs are very popular this time of year always, but particularly when we have this kind of cold weather,” Reid said.

He said any type of clothing for bundling up sold well over the weekend, especially with children still out of school at the time.

For those who can’t afford the extra cost of keeping warm, help may be available.

Federal and local emergency assistance programs can provide help with bills, though there’s often a wait and funds can be limited.

Jerry Dupree with the Forsyth County Family YMCA tries his best to take care of those in need when other programs can’t help.

“With this really cold snap the last few days and the rest of this week, I’m going to have a lot of calls from these social workers,” he said.

Through the Focus on Forsyth program, the YMCA often does weather stripping for those who need better home insulation. He said donations of time and money are always needed.

Last week, Dupree received an e-mail from the school system’s transition center, which works with non-native English speakers and homeless students, asking for blankets.

Through contacts, he was able to gather more than 150 for the families.

The Place of Forsyth County Inc. offers emergency aid to families whose gas or power has been disconnected, said executive director Sandy Beaver.

Many apply for help through the federal heating assistance program administered by Ninth District Opportunity.

That process can take time, though, so families may be able to get the heat restored temporarily in conditions like these.

“It’s cold out there and those heaters are gobbling up heat,” Beaver said.