Brutal, record-breaking cold descended on the East and South, sending the mercury plummeting Tuesday into the teens in southeast Georgia.
In Statesboro, the temperature hit a low of 16 degrees at about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, and the wind chill got as cold as 5 degrees by 7 a.m., according to Statesboro-Bulloch County Airport readings reported by the National Weather Service.
The high reached only a frosty 29 degrees in the afternoon.
The deep freeze prompted the American Red Cross Bulloch County chapter to provide shelter for a family whose apartment was only minimally damaged because the power was cut off.
Statesboro Fire Chief Tim Grams said the damage only involved an electrical outlet. Robin Wingate, the executive director for the American Red Cross Bulloch County chapter, said the "central heating and air unit caught fire" at the Willow Bend apartment complex off Chandler Road.
The family of four related adults and two children, ages 1 and 7, were relocated to a local hotel for two nights. The apartment management was expected to have the repairs done by Tuesday, she said.
No one was injured in the blaze and because Statesboro firefighters contained the flames so quickly, minimal damage was done, Wingate said.
The Bulloch County school system reported Tuesday that the morning bus commute and school openings "went very smoothly."
Transportation Director Paul Webb reported that three of the district's more than 150 school buses failed to crank, but he and his staff were able to either place a spare bus or a substitute driver on the affected routes with little delay. A bus in the Portal area did break down 15 minutes into the route, but more than 20 students were quickly placed on another bus, and they were only 15 minutes late to Portal Elementary and Portal Middle High, the school system said.
Three principals reported isolated incidents of single classrooms being colder than normal - something the district's maintenance department is addressing.
The district plans to follow the same plan Wednesday as it did Tuesday, with bus mechanics and drivers reporting early to work to crank and warm their buses before beginning morning routes. Drivers will be patient and wait on students who are inside their homes and cars so parents do not have to have them stand at the bus stop.
Wednesday morning, the low was forecast to be around 15 degrees with little to no wind. The high Wednesday is expected to hit the mid-40s, considerably warmer than Tuesday, after the cold start. The low Wednesday night into Thursday is forecast to be in the low 30s with a slight chance of showers after 3 a.m., and temperatures warming to the low to mid-50s Thursday. By Saturday, the mercury will flirt with the 70s, according to the National Weather Service.