Weather turns cold weeks before winter

LAWRENCEVILLE - The official start of winter is about three weeks away, but Gwinnettians may have already seen one sign of the season.

As cold air moved through the county Monday, some snowflakes were visible. The ground, however, was too warm to support any accumulation.

Lawrenceville resident Jasmine Coleman, 14, said she didn't see any of the falling flakes, but she was enjoying the cold weather. Monday's high temperature was about 15 degrees below the normal average of 58 degrees, National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Griesinger said.

"I love cold weather," Jasmine said. "It's very peaceful and calming."

Her mother, however, said winter is not her favorite time of year.

"I like spring and summer," said Geraldine Coleman, as she sipped a hot Starbucks beverage. "It's cold, but the hot drink makes it feel kind of cozy."

Jamila Coleman, 17, also drank one of the coffee company's hot drinks. (Jasmine, on the other hand, chose a cold blended beverage.)

"I would like it to be a little bit warmer," Jamila said, "but I'm content in almost anything."

Griesinger said the temperature today is expected to be a couple of degrees warmer, with highs in the mid- to upper-40s. By Wednesday, temperatures should return to the normal range.

As winter approaches, Gwinnett Fire Department spokesman Capt. Tommy Rutledge said it is important to take precautions during what has traditionally been a season for more fires.

"Firefighters do see an increase in residential fires during winter months due to alternate heat sources being used," Rutledge said. "Most fires occur due to improperly installed or poorly maintained heat sources."

It only takes a moment, he said, for a fire to start - like the one that happened about 4:43 p.m. Monday in Dacula.

Firefighters responded to the 2700 block of Winky Bluff to find the home's living room on fire. The blaze did heavy damage to the living room and kitchen and sent thick smoke throughout the rest of the house, reports said. The fire, Rutledge said, possibly started when hot embers shot out of the fireplace.

"An occupant was home with a fire burning in the fireplace and reportedly left for only a few minutes to meet a child at the neighborhood bus stop," Rutledge said. "He returned home to find the living room on fire."

No one was hurt and the family of four is staying with relatives for the time being. Rutledge is thankful this fire was not worse and hopeful that the number of incidents remains relatively low.

"We do see an increase, but so far we've not seen that dramatic of an increase and we hope it continues that way," he said.