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December chill will arrive this week
Watch out for heaters, plants as temps dip below freezing
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Winter weather tips

Gainesville-area forecast

Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 40, gusty winds 15-25 mph. Low tonight around 24.

Monday: Sunny, high near 39. Winds blowing 10- 20 mph, with gusts up to 30 mph. Overnight low around 22.

Tuesday: Sunny and less windy, high near 39, evening low around 22.

Source: National Weather Service

Though winter won't officially begin for about two more weeks, it certainly feels like the season is upon us.

Temperatures will remain cold through the early part of the week and there might even be snow flurries this morning, said Mike Leary, a forecaster with the National Weather Service.

"There is a slight chance of flurries in the morning but no accumulation expected," Leary said.

Though it will be sunny, temperatures are expected to peak in the low 40s and get down to a low of about 20 degrees through Tuesday.

"It's just a little bit cooler than seasonal, but not significantly," Leary said.

Hall County Fire Marshal Scott Cagle said safety during the winter is important because a lot of fires are caused by people trying to heat their homes.

"The most we have seen in winter fires are people using space heaters and kerosene heaters," Cagle said. "Usually the reason for those is they put some kind of cumbustable too close to the heater itself. Curtains, blinds, furniture - all those things need to be at least 3 feet away from a heater, whether it's electric or kerosene."

Cagle said it is important that fireplaces are inspected and cleaned by a professional before they are used to remove the combustible residue known as creosote that builds up in chimneys over time.

"We've already had a couple of chimney fires this year," Cagle said.

With enough cold weather to expect a hard freeze, it's time to take any potted plants inside, said Billy Skaggs, Hall County extension coordinator.

"You need to get it into a part of the home where the temperature doesn't get below 55 degrees," Skaggs said. "Just because it's out of the wind and not getting frost on it directly, our garages and basements can get pretty cold."

Skaggs said outdoor plants will likely shed their final leaves soon and go dormant for the winter.

"Most of our herbacious perennials, any little bit of green that's on there will be knocked down. Essentially they'll look like sticks," Skaggs said. "Evergreen trees and shrubs, conifers, will sometimes turn a bronze, light brown color and that's due to cold wind. It's not anything to worry about. It's very typical."

He said people who still want some color in the garden can find plants that thrive during the colder months.

"Plants like winter daphne, lenten roses, winter jasmine, they are plants that are going to bloom this time of year," Skaggs said.