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Coldest air of the season: when to expect single-digit wind chills

Low temps drop into the low 20s in Atlanta

ATLANTA — All aboard the Arctic Express! The coldest air of the season is on its way to North Georgia. Low temperatures will drop about 15 degrees below average into the low 20s in city of Atlanta, and outlying suburbs will be colder. Wind chills could fall into the 0s as the cold, dense air rushes in.

These temperatures will not just be the coldest of the season, but they could end up the coldest in years.

The Numbers At A Glance

Both Saturday and Sunday morning will have lows in the low to mid 20s for the city of Atlanta. It will be colder in the suburbs and mountains, especially Sunday morning. 

Atlanta last had a low of 22 degrees on December 26, 2020. If the Capital of the Peach State drops below 22, it will be the coldest we've seen since January 2018 - more than 4 years ago! The last few winters have been relatively mild. It's not unusual for Atlanta to reach the low 20s at least once each winter.

Although it will be the coldest of the season, the lows will not be record-breaking. In fact, our record low temp for Saturday is just 5, and Sunday is even colder at -3. Atlanta winter mornings are getting warmer as is shown in our new 1991-2020 climate normals.

Wind chills will be at their lowest Saturday morning when you factor in the gusty northwest winds. The feels-like temps will fall to the upper single digits in Atlanta and could approach below zero readings in the North Georgia mountains.

Credit: WXIA

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When To Expect Single-Digit Wind Chills

The Arctic air arrives Friday night, dropping temps into the low 20s in Atlanta and colder in the 'burbs. Along with gusty northwest winds, our feels-like temps or wind chills will drop into single-digit territory. This means that when you step outside Saturday morning it may only feel like 5 to 1 degrees when you go to walk the dog or get in a brisk jog. Notice the feels-like temps even lower for the mountains. In the higher elevations sub-zero wind chills are possible.

Credit: WXIA

Wind chills Saturday afternoon will not climb out of the 20s in Atlanta.

Credit: WXIA

Sunday morning's winds will be much lighter than at the start of the weekend. Wind chills fall into the upper 10s to low 20s, but they won't be as low as from Saturday. But with clear skies and lighter winds, the temps themselves could be a couple degrees colder Sunday morning

RELATED: Atlanta, North Georgia Weather Forecasts

Why Will it Get So Cold?
An Arctic air mass pushes into North Georgia on the western side of a big developing coastal storm. This storm will slam parts of the I-95 corridor with big snow totals and high winds. Across North Georgia, we miss this snow storm apart from some upslope snow showers and flurries for the highest elevations in the mountains. But what we do get is the cold air behind.

Credit: WXIA

RELATED: What is a 'bomb cyclone?'

How To Prepare For The Cold

The most important thing to remember is the 4 P's during cold weather snaps: people, pets, pipes and plants. Check on elderly neighbors and bring your pets inside. 

RELATED: Remember the 4 P's: How you can protect people, pets, plants and pipes ahead of cold weather

As long as temperatures stay above 20 degrees, we don't expect a massive pipe-bursting threat. But for outlying suburbs dropping into the mid to upper teens, this will be enough to create the threat of pipes freezing. Open cabinet doors under sinks and keep a slow drip on the faucets running at night to prevent pipes from freezing.

If you're going outside Saturday morning in the single-digit wind chills, dress warmly in layers and don't forget to cover exposed skin. This means wearing a hat on your head, scarves around the neck and gloves on your hands to best protect from the wind and cold.

Credit: WXIA

We do expect strong winds Saturday morning, gusting up to 35 miles per hour in the metro and up to 50 miles per hour in the North Georgia mountains. We will not have a big snow/ice threat to couple with these winds and create a widespread power outage concern. With that being said, there could be isolated power outages in the North Georgia mountains with the highest gusts.

RELATED: Tips to keep your pets safe in the winter weather