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Schools weather stormy conditions

POSTED: August 9, 2014 1:11 a.m.
NAT GURLEY/The Times

Much of the second wave of storms just missed Gainesville late Friday afternoon, slipping past to the south and east. Earlier threats of severe weather prompted downtown farmers market officials to shut down early.

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More storms, however, are in the forecast for the weekend in North Georgia.

Power went out around 7 a.m. Friday at McEver Arts Academy, but was back on within the hour, Superintendent Will Schofield confirmed.

Lights also briefly went out at Riverbend Elementary School around 10 a.m.; they were back on within minutes.

Morning and afternoon showers also contributed to some bus delays.

“Some of our buses were a little late due to new students, new drivers, the rain, traffic at the schools and being extra cautious,” said Jewel Armour, transportation director. “I ask our bus drivers to be more alert and even more cautious on the first day even if it causes them to be late.

“For many of our students, it is the first time they have experienced waiting at the bus stop, crossing the road to board the bus and then actually riding on a school bus,” he added. “We do our best to protect them during that experience.

“We had some buses late again this afternoon; quite a few ... because the weather hit us right in the middle of everything,” Armour said. “It was pretty serious in the south end (of the county), especially.

“Even on normal days, we’re later getting home because of bad weather,” Armour said. “We go on what we call a rainy day schedule throughout the year. What that means is, we make stops that we don’t normally make, to make sure kids don’t have to walk in the rain. We may go a little farther down the road than normal”

While 25,673 children reported for the first day of school, officials said they think the Friday start and weather may have artificially lowered that number.

“With a rainy Friday start, I also anticipate significantly more students next week,” Schofield wrote via email.

The last time school started on a Friday, the district saw an increase of more than 1,100 students by the third full school day. In contrast, when county schools began the 2013-14 year on a Monday, they only added 681 students in that same timeframe.

With more rain in the outlook for the weekend, children may find their enjoyment of the first weekend of the school year dampened.

There’s an 80 percent chance of rain for today according to the National Weather Service in Peachtree City. The probability of precipitation declines to 70 percent tonight and 60 percent Sunday.

“We have a short-wave trough moving through the Tennessee Valley, and a stationary boundary that has settled over North Georgia, aiding in thunderstorm development,” said weather service meteorologist Carly Kovacik.

She said the stationary boundary is expected to remain in place today, “and we have another short-wave trough coming through that will aid in the development of showers and thunderstorms.”

More thunderstorms are possible into next week, Kovacik said.

“It does look like we’re in a pattern where weak, subtle lows will enhance the development of thunderstorms,” she said.

That pattern, combined with daytime warming, could cause afternoon thunderstorms through much of next week, but the storms should be over by nightfall, she said.



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