Some of the coldest temperatures in a year are sweeping through Middle Georgia.
Wind gusts up to 35 mph across the midstate created dangerous wind chills in the single digits overnight, and Thursday’s forecast offers little relief.
Highs Thursday will barely creep above freezing -- around 35 degrees -- and gusts could still hit 25 mph. Thursday night’s low will be in the high teens, the National Weather Service said.
Conditions warrant a wind chill advisory that has been extended until 2 p.m. Thursday. Middle Georgia hasn’t had a wind chill advisory since Jan. 7, 2014, according to the Weather Service.
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The wind chill was projected between zero and 10 degrees Wednesday night. While that wind will largely be gone by Thursday night, the temperature will still be numbing.
“Being out for an extended time is probably not a good idea (Wednesday) and (Thursday) night,” said Carly Kovacik, with the Weather Service.
That poses an even greater risk for people who are homeless or have insufficient heating in their homes. Jeremy Weatherly with the Rescue Mission of Middle Georgia said that, ahead of an expected afternoon bread-line gathering of 60 to 90 people, the organization’s supply of coats had dwindled to about 15, with some hats and scarves mixed in.
“We’ve already given all those out earlier in the week,” Weatherly said.
Shelter may also be an issue. Don Druitt, director of the Bibb County Emergency Management Agency, was already in discussions with the Salvation Army to prepare for a potential overflow at the group’s shelter Wednesday night.
“As a result, we will probably transport those people that need a warming center,” Druitt said, pointing to the Daybreak center near Central City Park as the likely destination.
Frostbite and hypothermia can happen if proper precautions aren’t taken when people do need to go outside, which includes wearing gloves and a hat.
“If you have to be outside, layer clothing and make sure no skin is exposed,” said Houston County Emergency Management Agency Director Jimmy Williams.
In addition, Middle Georgia residents are asked to check in on older family members and neighbors.
“They always need some special attention,” Druitt said.
Pets should be brought indoors overnight and kept inside Thursday and Friday, Williams advised. Also, caution should be used with space heaters because of the potential for fires, he said, making sure to keep at least 3 feet between the heater and anything that could catch fire.
In addition, property owners should take precautions to protect pipes and cancel automatic lawn sprinkling systems that could create hazardous ice patches Thursday and Friday morning.
As long as vehicles have been properly maintained and have gas and antifreeze, local travel should not be a problem, though it’s wise to keep emergency weather kits of blankets, a flashlight and jumper cables in a vehicle, Williams said. Add food and water for extended trips.
“We’re not anticipating any rain, ice or storm,” Williams said.
Motorists traveling into north Georgia, however, may experience potentially “treacherous” driving conditions Thursday morning with potential for black ice and extended periods of freezing temperatures, he said.
In north Georgia, another winter storm is possible Friday through Saturday morning with significant snow and ice possible.
That won’t be the case in Middle Georgia, as weekend temperatures are expected to build into the 60s on Sunday with an 80 percent chance of thunderstorms. More cold weather will likely return next week.
Staff writer Becky Purser contributed to this article. To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303. To contact writer Jeremy Timmerman, call 744-4331.