The mild and somewhat “warm” weather Monday has quickly left to only be replaced with the freezing cold as Tifton residents bundle up and prepare for another cold snap. The cold weather is expected to last up until Thursday with higher temperatures returning Friday.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for late Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning. Light rain, snow, sleet and/or freezing rain are possible in the Tifton area, including several other surrounding areas.
According to the NWS, an arctic cold front was expected to move through the region Monday night with very cold air streaming in behind it Tuesday. Light rain will develop during the day and gradually change to freezing rain Tuesday night. Accumulations will generally range from a tenth to two-tenths of an inch with locally higher amounts in excess of one-quarter inch possible. Late Tuesday night and early Wednesday, some of the freezing rain may mix with light snow or sleet before the precipitation tapers off from northwest to southeast. Little accumulation of snow or sleet is likely.
Tift County Emergency Management Agency Director Jason Jones told The Gazette Monday afternoon, “We’re looking at lows around 30 degrees Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.” He said the temperature will begin increasing Friday with a high of 61 degrees.
As far as the weather conditions that will come with the freezing cold, he said one of their biggest concerns is precipitation.
“We’re looking for some rain late (Tuesday), early Wednesday morning. Of course that coupled with the freezing temperatures can make the roadways icy. Bridges are probably our biggest point of concern,” Jones said. “Just the rain associated with the cold weather, freezing conditions are what we’re paying close attention to.”
He added that the Tift County Roads Department has taken some precautionary steps by preparing to put sand on the roadways, if necessary. He said sand helps with traction on icy roadways.
When asked what steps motorists can take to be safer on the roadways, Jones said, “Drive slowly and carefully. Just use a little bit of extra caution. Allow some extra time to get to one point to another.”
He said residents who are using some type of space heater inside their homes need to be aware of the potential for a fire hazard.
“Just be careful and cautious,” he urged.
To help with preventing your pipes from freezing, Jones says, “Anytime the weather
freezes, you want to make sure that you got all of your pipes covered.” He added that this is not the first time this year that residents have been through these freezing temperatures. About three weeks ago, the community experienced freezing weather. He said he didn’t hear of any major difficulties in pipes freezing, only a few around town.
Jones said the average high for this time of the year is 59 degrees and the average low is 37.
“It’s a little cooler than normal,” he commented. He said in January and February are pretty cold months for the Tiftarea, but it’s been a little colder this year than it has in past years.
“The important thing to remember is that we’re going to be dealing with it for about 36 or 48 hours. Things will start to get back to what we consider to be normal,” Jones said. “Friday is going to be in the low 60s, and it’s going to be up to 70 degrees by Saturday. We’ll get through the next 36 or 48 hours.”
As for snow, he says it’s possible.
“If it snows at all, it will be very, very light accumulation, if any,” he said, noting precipitation issues they’re worried about will be sleet and freezing rain. He doesn’t think snow will be an issue.
Should someone need shelter from the cold weather, Jones says they will reopen the warming station at the Tift County Neighborhood Service Center, located at 2737 S. Central Ave. It will open at noon today and remain open until noon Thursday.
To contact reporter Latasha Ford, call 382-4321.