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Christmas in July? Chestnuts aren’t the only things roasting

Record highs to continue through Wednesday

POSTED: December 22, 2007 5:02 a.m.

BY DEBBIE GILBERT

dgilbert@gainesvilletimes.com

With two weeks to go until Christmas, North Georgians weren’t exactly in a holiday mood Monday. They sweated in shorts and T-shirts even as radio stations stubbornly played "Let It Snow" and "Winter Wonderland."

Many areas of Georgia broke or tied temperature records Sunday and Monday, with highs soaring into the mid-70s. Atlanta, for example, hit 76 degrees Sunday afternoon, smashing the previous record of 71 set in 1978. Gainesville was not far behind with 75 degrees.

On Monday, Gainesville’s highest reading at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport was 74. But the mercury continued to climb in Atlanta, which hit a high of 77, and Athens, which reached a scorching 79. Both cities broke records set in 1972.

"Near 80 is ridiculous for this time of year," said Robert Beasley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.

Meanwhile, as the Peach State basked in sunshine, a monstrous ice storm brought misery Monday from northern Texas all the way to the Great Lakes.

What’s the deal? Is there some gigantic force field that’s preventing winter from getting to Georgia?

Actually, yes.

"We’ve been under a large area of high pressure for several days, and it will be with us for a couple more days," said Verona Murrell, another meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "It’s a very warm air mass coming up from the Gulf."

Eventually, the cold front that’s affecting the Midwest will reach Georgia, she said, but it won’t bring any frozen precipitation
with it.

The current forecast predicts rain will move into Northeast Georgia on Wednesday night, with a 40 percent chance of showers on Thursday. The high temperature for Gainesville on Wednesday is expected to be 75 degrees, but by Saturday the mercury will only reach about 49 degrees.

"That’s about normal for this time of year," said Murrell.

Beasley said the same phenomenon that’s brought Georgia a summery encore is what has kept the state locked in a drought.

"It’s a continuation of the same pattern the Southeast has had for most of this year," he said. "It’s that ridge of high pressure that’s kept us from getting much rain."

Beasley said the chances of rain will increase next week. But with no Arctic fronts approaching, he doesn’t anticipate any snow or ice in Georgia this December.

"We will definitely not be having a white Christmas," he said.



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