Here, finally starting to feel like fall

LAWRENCEVILLE - Scorching summer days and nights are making way for chilly temperatures, as fall weather finally catches up with Gwinnett County. This week will bring near freezing overnight temperatures.

It is unlikely that Hurricane Wilma will have much of an impact on the area as it makes its way across Florida and into the Atlantic. Chance of rain is only 20 percent or lower for the next two weeks.

The colder temperatures are inspiring Gwinnett residents to stock up on electric blankets, heaters and jackets. They are trying to be more energy efficient in light of increasing natural gas prices. Natural gas prices are expected to be about 50 percent higher this winter compared to 2004, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

"We've been selling lots and lots and lots of electric heaters," said Jason Clark, assistant manager of the Home Depot in Lawrenceville. "Firewood is just now starting to pick up. But our electric space heaters, we're having difficulty keeping those in stock."

It's no longer T-shirt and shorts weather, and Gwinnett residents are opting for sweaters and jackets. The Burlington Coat Factory in Discovery Mills has seen a significant increase in business since the temperature dipped.

"Once they know the temperature is dropping, or they hear it on the radio or on the TV, they come in," said Lois Hewan, office manager for the Burlington Coat Factory. "When it gets to be 40 degrees, we get swamped."

With lows in the 30s this week, this temperature will be colder than the local average in October. The average high is 71 degrees and the average low is 49 degrees in Lawrenceville. This week, the average highs and lows are 10 degrees cooler than that, and even cooler than November averages, according to several Web sites.

Because it is expected to be windy, it may seem colder than the reading on the thermometer, so it might be wise to grab a sweater even if it looks sunny outside.