Winter blast brings needed chill - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Winter blast brings needed chill

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   (Undated-AP) -- Georgians are waking up to the coldest weather

since 1996, with temperatures dipping into the teens in north

Georgia.

   The National Weather Service is calling for even colder weather

tonight with a low of nine degrees possible in Athens and Atlanta,

and eight degrees in Gainesville and Rome.

   National Weather Service meteorologist Von Woods says, "I would

not be surprised, depending on what the winds do, to see single

digits across north Georgia, to the teens in the south to the

Florida border."

   The Weather Service says the coldest temperature reported so far

overnight is 15 degrees in Summerville, followed by 16 degrees in

Dalton.

   Helen reported a low of 17, with LaFayette reporting 18 degrees.  Cartersville and Rome each reported 19 degrees, and the wind chill is making it feel even colder.

   Saturday's forecast calls for lows to be four or five degrees

warmer, but Woods says sheltered areas south of Atlanta, including

Peachtree City and parts of Coweta County, might see single digits

again.

   He says the last time Atlanta recorded temperatures of below ten

degrees was in February 1996.

 Peach growers in Georgia and South Carolina are welcoming the blast of arctic air that is bringing freezing weather to much of the South this week.

   Peach trees -- along with blueberry and blackberry bushes -- are

getting the chill hours they need to produce bountiful crops. Chill

hours are those periods below 45 degrees.

   Now growers have one more hurdle before the harvest -- the

possibility of a damaging spring freeze.

   Peach grower Robert Dickey Junior of Musell -- west of Macon --

says fall and winter have been ideal for peaches so far. But he

says now farmers are beginning to worry about spring frost.

   As he puts it, "You can't keep farmers from worrying about the

elements."

   Dickey and his son -- Robert Dickey the Third, chairman of the

Georgia Peach Commission -- are major growers in central Georgia.

That's where the bulk of Georgia's peach crop is grown.

   A fruit and vegetable specialist with the South Carolina

Department of Agriculture -- Martin Eubanks -- agreed conditions

have been ideal for peaches this year.

   Eubanks says last year South Carolina growers lost about 40

percent of the crop because of the unusually warm weather, a late

freeze and drought.

posted at 10:20AM by dave.miller@walb.com