If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to get ready for colder weather.
The area’s first frost is forecast for this morning, with the low temperature predicted to be around 38. Tonight’s low is expected to be around 39, avoiding another frost, but only until Saturday morning, with Friday’s overnight low forecast to hit 35.
“Right now, we have a strong area of high pressure moving into the Arkansas-Mississippi area, and off the back side of that we have cold air moving into Georgia,’ said National Weather Service meteorologist Jason Deese. “This is our first shot of cold air coming in.”
Deese said it’s typical for the area to get cooler air this time of year, but these temperatures will be colder than normal.
“The origin of the cold air is farther north in Canada,” he said. “Usually, (the cold fronts) come down into the northeastern states, but this time it’s coming all the way down into the South.”
While sunny days with highs in the mid-50s to low 60s are in the forecast, you might want to keep a jacket handy.
“Friday’s going to have wind all day long,” Deese said, “and with the temperature not getting out of the low to mid-50s, it’s going to feel cold.”
Another concern for many area residents will be protecting their plants.
“Anything’s that’s a houseplant that people have had out during the summertime, that needs to be brought in,” said Michael Wheeler, county extension coordinator for the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension in Hall County. “But check for hitchhikers — mites or other little critters that might be in the foliage of the plants.
“We recommend an insecticidal soap, and a lot of times, a hard splash of water, like a jet of water, can dislodge those, as long as it doesn’t harm the plant.”
If that leads to second thoughts about bringing in plants, there might be an alternative, Wheeler said.
“People who have protected carports, a lot of times, will provide enough protection with the heat radiated off the house, if they’re wary of bringing in plants with hitchhikers,” he said.
For plants that can’t be brought in, Wheeler recommends a thin cover.
“For other things that are in the ground, I like to use and old bedsheet, just a thin, cotton bedsheet,” he said. “Fruit growers like to use these to cover row crops.
“The sheet lets plants breathe. A lot of times, the next day when the sun comes up, plastic (covers) turn into a greenhouse and burn the plants up.”
The ideal time to cover or bring in plants is from midafternoon to just before dark, Wheeler said, and the cover should be removed around sunrise.
It’s also time to consider preparing your home for winter. The Georgia Public Service Commission is reminding consumers to weatherize their households, enroll in budget billing programs and conserve energy if possible.
Officials said they expect natural gas costs for residential customers to be roughly the same as they were last year.
Consumers have several options to lessen the economic burden of higher energy bills during months of cold weather, officials said.
Commission spokesman Bill Edge said consumers — especially those on fixed incomes — should begin looking into budget billing options to avoid unexpected spikes in power costs, or enroll in the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program through the state Department of Human Services.
Edge said consumers can also get help from the Georgia Environmental Financing Authority to weatherize their households.
A warming trend is expected to start Saturday night, with the low predicted to reach the mid-40s and next week’s highs climbing from the mid-60s to low 70s by midweek.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.