Out Cold: Extreme Weather on the way

by Sarah Fay Campbell

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Below freezing temperatures early Friday created nature's artwork on this fountain in downtown Newnan. 

Winter is here. With a vengeance.

Below-freezing temperatures left frozen fountains Friday morning, and bonechilling cold is on its way. A low temperature of 14 degrees is forecast for Monday night/ Tuesday morning, and a low of 17 degrees for Tuesday night/Wednesday morning.

The days won't get much better. According to the National Weather Service forecast, temperatures will drop Sunday night and won't return to above freezing until Wednesday, when the temperature will climb to 41.

Today's forecast is for mostly sunny skies with a high in the mid 40s and five to 10 mph winds. It's a good day to enjoy some relative warmth before the cold snap - or to get your water pipes ready for it.

A small chance of rain is forecast for Sunday afternoon, and it could turn to snow overnight. If there is snow, it will probably stay around for a while, except in sunny areas. Monday's forecast high is 30 degrees, and Tuesday's is 29.

Cowetans got a taste of what is coming Friday morning, when there was a low of 22 degrees just before sunrise.

Forecasters at the National Weather Service office in Peachtree City are busy trying to determine the chance of snow Sunday night. Currently, there is a 30 percent chance of rain Sunday through around 1 a.m. Then there is a 'slight chance' of snow. Sunday's rains aren't expected to be heavy, said Mike Leary, meteorologist with the weather service.

With weather this cold, Coweta residents are advised to bring their pets inside, and to take precautions to avoid frozen water pipes.

Frozen pipes tend to become a problem at temperatures below 20 degrees. Chances of problems increase the longer the low temperatures remain.

Frozen pipes can be an inconvenience, but if things get bad enough for the pipes to burst, they can be disastrous, leading to interior flooding.

The most important - and easiest - way to avoid frozen pipes is to leave your faucets dripping slightly during the night when temperatures are expected to drop below 20. In extremely cold temperatures, this isn't always enough to keep the pipes from freezing, but it can keep them from bursting.

Outdoor faucets should be protected with some type of insulation, or they should be left dripping. There are foam caps specifically made for outdoor faucets.

Outdoor water pipes, as well as those in non-insulated crawl spaces and attics and those running along exterior walls, are the most susceptible to freezing.

Employees at Newnan's ACE Hardware have been selling a few items to help protect residents from frozen pipes. Owner David McMichael expects business to be busy today as people hear about the forecast.

There are plenty of products to help keep your pipes warm. They include the common foam pipe sleeves, which can simply be cut to size and slipped onto pipes, as well as rolls of insulation that can be wrapped around pipe, and even 'heat tape.' The heat tape is wrapped around pipes and is plugged into an electrical outlet in order to keep the pipes warm.

The heat tape is usually only needed for exposed outdoor pipes, said David Burnham of ACE.

In addition to leaving faucets dripping, closing any crawl space vents is a very important step, said McMichael. If you have a furnace or other heat producing device in your crawl space, closing off the vents so that cold wind isn't whipping around your pipes - usually does the trick.

But, then again, temperatures in Georgia usually don't stay so low for long.

Another easy and free way to keep your pipes warm is to open cabinet doors covering kitchen and bathroom pipes that allows the warm air inside the house to circulate around the pipes. And it might be a good idea to keep your furnace a few degrees warmer, if you normally keep the house cool at night.



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