Record cold expected

jgaines@macon.comJanuary 5, 2014 

Features

Lakeleigh Clone, 16 months, walks with her grandfather Tom Brown and mother, Melissa Clone, at the Museum of Arts and Science on Sunday. They live in Traverse City, Mich., and were in Macon visiting family. They planned to travel home home Saturday, but their flight to Chicago was canceled due to bad weather.

WOODY MARSHALL — wmarshall@macon.com Buy Photo

The winter conditions expected in Middle Georgia this week have already caught up with Melissa Clone and her family, who saw their travel plans disrupted by the approaching weather system.

Heading home to Traverse City, Mich., after a visit with relatives in Macon, Clone and her fellow travelers were stymied at the Middle Georgia Regional Airport on Sunday.

“We got down here on Monday,” she said. “We had planned to leave yesterday, on Saturday, and a connecting flight was canceled.”

Bad weather in Chicago was the culprit. So Clone, her 16-month-old daughter and her parents were rescheduled to fly out of Atlanta at 8 a.m. Monday, though that required a drive to Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

“We always enjoy coming to Macon, so we can’t complain very much about being stuck here for a couple extra days,” she said.

But a taste of that harsh weather is to move into Middle Georgia not long after Clone expects to leave, leading Bibb County schools to close Monday and Dublin City Schools to delay classes by two hours on Monday and Tuesday.

The National Weather Service office in Peachtree City expects temperatures to continue to plunge all day Monday, with wind gusts up to 35 miles per hour. The worst chill will come early Tuesday, dropping to about 10 degrees with a wind chill down to minus-3, and winds still gusting to 35 mph.

Tuesday’s high is expected to be just 27 degrees, with somewhat calmer winds, but with wind chill down to minus 4. The temperature may drop again to 14 on Tuesday night, but the wind should calm and Wednesday is expected to be a sunny 42 degrees.

The record low for Monday is 7 degrees, set in 1924, and Tuesday’s record low -- from 1970 -- is 16, said Alex Gibbs, meteorologist at the Peachtree City office.

“What we’re forecasting would definitely break the record,” he said.

Due to the extreme cold and possibility of black ice, Bibb County schools will be closed Monday, the district announced Sunday evening.

After talking with the National Weather Service and the Macon-Bibb County Emergency Management Agency, officials decided to close all schools and the central office, meaning faculty and staff should not come in, according to an announcement from Stephanie Hartley, public relations specialist for the district.

A decision about Tuesday’s classes will be made Monday afternoon, following more talks with weather and emergency officials, her email said.

For the same reasons, Dublin City Schools are postponing classes by two hours Monday and Tuesday, the district announced.

“The delay is in effect for all students/employees,” Michelle Thublin, Dublin City Schools director of public relations and marketing, said by email. “This includes bus stop times too. Afternoon dismissal times, however, will remain the same.”

Wilkinson County schools are dismissing early Monday, 1 p.m. for elementary schools and 1:15 p.m. for middle and high school.

Houston County schools, however, will open Monday at the regular time, said Beth McLaughlin, director of community and school affairs for the Houston County district. Superintendent James Hines decided to open schools after talking to Houston County Emergency Management Director Jimmy Williams, McLaughlin said.

M.A. Evans grade school and Gantt's preschool will be open on Monday, but closed on Tuesday.

Middle Georgia is expected to get just the edge of a “polar vortex,” a spiral of arctic air dominating the middle of the country. The National Weather Service Prediction Center in Maryland is forecasting heavy snow for much of the north-central United States, freezing rain through New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, and temperatures up to 50 degrees below normal in many places.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.

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