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Tuesday February 9th, 2016 6:50AM

Tale of Two Januaries

By Ken Stanford Reporter
GAINESVILLE - It may have very well be one of the coldest Januaries in north Georgia on record but one thing is for sure: it was much colder than last January.

A month that began with near-normal weather quickly turned into something else - with record-setting cold, a winter storm that paralyzed Atlanta for several days and even a tornado.

There were 21 days out of the 31 in the month on which temperatures in Gainesville were below normal. On several of those days, the morning lows were in the teens or below, even in the single-digits on two of them: plus-9 on the 6th, which tied the record low for that date, and plus-5 the next day, which set a new record for the date. In addition, there was a 10-degree reading on the 24th.

On three days in January, the high didn't get above freezing.

In January 2013, by contrast, temperatures on only ten days were below normal, and there were only seven days which recorded lows at or below freezing - the lowest readings being a 26.

The month just concluded was highlighted by not only the record cold and the four arctic blasts in a two-week period that triggered those teens and single-digit readings but there was the winter storm that struck late in the month and which is still impacting some parts of north Georgia.

The tornado struck Cherokee County on the 11th. The same system roared through the Gainesville area a few minutes later, bringing with it 55 mile-an-hour winds that leveled trees in several places, including River Forks Park on Browns Bridge Road where about 50 trees were toppled.

Weather highlights for January 2013 included an ice storm in parts of north Georgia on the 25th that left a 1/4 inch coating in Gainesville, resulting in many wrecks and the brief closing of some roads - and there was some flooding in the Gainesville area on the 30th. That same day tornadoes tore through parts of north Georgia.

This is not the first time in recent memory that Georgia has been socked by a major winter storm in the first month of the year. Many people, during discussion of this past week's winter storm and the impact it had on Atlanta, recalled Snow Jam '82, which also paralyzed Atlanta for several days (see link below) and dumped several inches of snow on other parts of the state, including Gainesville.

And, just three years ago, a Sunday night/Monday morning snow storm shut Atlanta and much of north Georgia down for several days, even disrupting inauguration activities for Gov. Nathan Deal. But because it occurred when most businesses, offices and schools were closed, it did not result in the kind of chaos that occurred a few days ago and in 1982.

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