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Winter tightens its grip on Forsyth County area
Snow possible Friday before rain rolls in Sunday
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Forsyth County News

FORSYTH COUNTY -- It’s cold. Still.


Although Thursday’s brutal mix of freezing temperatures and icy wind was expected to be the week’s low point, the Forsyth County area is unlikely to completely thaw out for a few days.


The weather forecast through the weekend predicted lingering cold Friday with a high near 34 degrees and a chance of snow before plummeting back below freezing to 28 overnight.


Temperatures should warm up Saturday into the 40s and Sunday with a peak high of about 55, but rain is also expected.


That weather pattern should stick through early next week. A chance of rain and highs in the 40s are expected Monday and Tuesday, while Wednesday could bring sun with a high near 39.


Many residents continued to feel the impact of Monday night’s winter storm. Cumming-based Sawnee EMC, which serves most of the county, reported that 3,562 customers remained without power as of Thursday afternoon. At the height of the storm, that number was about 38,000.


And trees, which were the culprit in many of the power outages, continued to fall. With some still weakened by coats of ice, there was the chance more could topple, said Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Robin Regan.


No significant weather-related accidents or injuries occurred after the initial 48 hours of Monday’s winter storm, Regan said, though the sheriff’s office, fire department and EMS personnel will be on standby into next week for any further developments.


In the first 36 hours after the storm, those agencies responded to 814 calls. The sheriff’s office fielded 695 of those, Regan said, with about 400 involving trees falling across roads. About 100 were related to downed power lines.


One patrol car was “severely damaged” while deputies worked to clear a completely shut down Bettis-Tribble Gap Road. No deputies have been injured, including anyone on the eight “chainsaw strike teams.”


“Watch out for trees that are still iced over,” Regan said, “and be hyper-vigilant of your surroundings.”


The overall health of native trees should not be affected by cold weather alone, said Greg Wallace, the county’s arborist.


Another round of ice or snow, on the other hand, is a different story.


“If they’re failing, it’s due to high winds and ice loads and snow if we get it,” Wallace said. “What can be done to prevent that? Not much.”


Trees are dormant in the winter, he said, and don’t “actively grow” at the same rate as in spring or summer.


“It’s like they know the cold weather is coming and prepare for it,” Wallace said.


The county does not require a permit for the homeowner to remove a tree, he said, though residents may want to check with their homeowners association before getting rid of one.


The Forsyth County school system has been closed all week due to the weather. The frigid winter conditions forced the closures Tuesday-Thursday, while Monday was the President’s Day holiday.


As of Thursday night, district officials were planning to hold school Friday.


Factors taken into consideration for calling off classes included timing and forecast predictions for snow and ice totals, frigid air temperatures, building concerns, road and parking lot conditions and the fact that many school employees live in north-neighboring counties, which were harder hit by the storm.


Tuesday and Wednesday were covered by inclement weather days built into the 2014-15 school calendar. Thursday, however was the system’s first online/itslearning day.


Students were expected to visit the virtual, interactive online teaching portal to receive assignments, which would be due five days after they returned to school.