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Cold front slams door on warmth

Power outage fixed in about 20 minutes

POSTED: December 28, 2007 5:03 a.m.

Last week’s record-setting heat wave came to an end Saturday with a cold front that brought with it more than rain.

Winds up to 30 mph blew through Gainesville Sunday, dropping the wind chill temperature to 23 degrees and causing power outages for hundreds of residents. The low temperature at the Lee Gilmer Airport on Monday morning was 27 degrees. By 9:30 a.m., the temperature was still below freezing.

"The wind knocked out a (West Gainesville) circuit and actually caused the whole station to go out," said Jacob Benton, a system control coordinator with Jackson EMC.

The outage affected more than 1,000 people, but only lasted about 20 minutes, Benton said.

The wind was the result of a cold front moving through the Southeast, said Trisha Palmer, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Peachtree City.

Northwesterly winds typically trail cold fronts, Palmer said. These winds just happened to be stronger than normal. Palmer said they will have subsided by this morning.

Despite the havoc wreaked by the high winds, Saturday’s rain had no effect on power service. In fact, it had little effect on anything, Palmer said.

"Every little bit helps ... but (it was) not a drought buster by any means," she said. "You guys got half an inch. That’s not even going to make a dent. We need days, weeks of (getting) half an inch every day."

Even with Gainesville’s .47 inches of rain Saturday, the area still has an 18.5 inch deficit for the year, Palmer said, but added that the next few months may not be too bleak.

"We’re looking for a warm and dry winter ... but winter to spring is typically our wettest season, so even if we are normal, it will help the drought," she said. "Even if we’re below normal, if we’re, say, one inch below normal, it will still help."

And though the rain is gone, the cold is here to stay, Palmer said.

Temperatures will range between the 30s and 50s this week, and could get even colder by Christmas.

Palmer said a strong cold front is scheduled to come through Sunday.

"But we’re still a long way out, so it could speed up by a day or slow down by a day," Palmer said.

Currently, forecasts call for possible rain on Saturday, with much cooler temperatures Sunday and Christmas Eve.

"It’s possible that there could be some snow flurries ... in the mountains," she said. "But nowhere else."

While a white Christmas looks unlikely, at least it will be a cold Christmas.

"Christmas morning is going to be similar to (this) morning," Palmer said. "Just (don’t expect) snow."



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