A chill in the air ... finally

By Ed Brock

Standing side by side, Shonda Steward and Tasha Keith of Jonesboro talked about the weather.

"I like it warm," Steward said.

"I like it cool," said Keith.

Keith is about to be happier.

Temperatures dipped into the mid-40s on Thursday night and the low is expected to go down to 38 degrees tonight, said meteorologist Frank Taylor with the National Weather Service office in Peachtree City. Saturday night the low will go back up some – to 40 degrees.

"It is going to be the coldest temperature of this autumn," Taylor said.

The cooler weather is also fine with Patrice Brown who works in Jonesboro.

"I don't like how it gets cool at night and then blazing hot in the afternoon," Brown said.

That weather pattern makes her worried about her young daughters because it's more likely to make them sick, Brown said.

After this weekend the rest of November is expected to be normal, but a couple of factors are indicating this winter will be colder and wetter, said Jim Noel, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service office in Peachtree City.

One factor is the wet weather this part of the nation experienced from August to October as a result of the heavy hurricane season. Also, Noel said forecasters are expecting a weak "El Ni?o," the weather system that develops in the equatorial waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean.

"That tends to support wetter than normal conditions," Noel said.

That also means there is a better chance of snow this year than last year.

According to weather figures, last December had a high of 53.2 for the month and a low of 33 with a trace of snow and 2.69 inches of rain. January had a high of 52.7 and a low of 33 with a trace of snow and 2.84 inches of rain. February had a high of 51.5, a now of 35.9 and 4.60 inches of rain and 2.5 inches of snow.

The heavy hurricane season has also had an impact on natural gas production, said Jesse Killings, Atlanta Gas Light regional manager for the Clayton, Henry and Fayette counties service area. At the same time, demand remains high, leading to some "volatility in the gas prices," Killings said.

"The prices are predicted to remain high for this year," Killings said.

How that affects the average consumer depends on the pricing plan used by each consumer. Some customers have fixed pricing arrangements and that means they will see no change in their cost per unit.

For others, AGL has some hints for keeping their bills down during the cold months ahead.

Along with checking the insulation on their houses and caulking open spaces, people should consider installing a programmable thermostat that allows different temperatures to be programmed for different times of the day.

It's best to set the temperature for 72 degrees during the day and 65 degrees at night. Adding weather-stripping to doors and windows and door sweeps also provides more insulation.

Wear layers of clothes and put extra blankets on the bed instead of turning up the heat. To save money on hot water, take showers instead of baths and wash clothes in cold or warm water.

AGL also recommends cleaning or replacing the filters on your heater or having it properly serviced before the real winter chill kicks in. Getting a checkup by a qualified technician should be done sooner rather than later, said Brian Brinkley with A.R. Soesebee Heating & Air of Stockbridge.

"You don't want to wait until it becomes bone-chilling cold to find out your heat doesn't work," Brinkley said.