Extreme winter storms could impact Georgia’s weather in weeks to come, climate expert says

ATLANTA — After historic storms pushed through the South this week, millions of people still don’t have access to drinkable water and hundreds of thousands still don’t have power.

Channel 2′s Justin Wilfon learned that nearly 400 crews will stay in Mississippi through the weekend helping to restore power there.

“They’ve been out there this week and we’re going to stay as long as needed to get everybody restored in Mississippi,” Georgia Power spokeswoman Allison Gregoire said.

Georgia Power crews had just returned from Mississippi on Wednesday when they were called back again after a second storm.

“We had some fresh crews head out that way to help again,” Gregoire said.

While the storms clobbered most of the South, Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brad Nitz told Wilfon why the storms barely missed Georgia.

“A very close call and it was just a matter of the position of the jet stream that steers these storms,” Nitz said. “Just skirted to our West. Both of the storms did. We got pretty lucky.”

However, Nitz said the storms were so big they could still impact our weather in Georgia, weeks from now.

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“What we’ve been watching is the really extreme cold for days and days down over the Gulf of Mexico that drops the water temperature of the Gulf of Mexico and it looks like that could have some impacts on the severe weather season that we all have here in the Southeast. It looks like that might delay it by a few weeks,” said Dr. Marshall Shepherd, University of Georgia Atmospheric Sciences Program Director.

Even though Georgia missed out on this week’s storms, Shepherd said we may not get so lucky in the future.

He told Wilfon this week’s historic storms could be sign of things to come.

“It is February and it’s winter. So I’m not too surprised that we see a cold air outbreak. But this is a really extreme one. And there is some science evidence believe it or not, that this polar vortex, if climate is changing, we may see more weakened polar vortex events, allowing cold air to spill into the U.S. more frequently,” Shepherd said.

The storms also caused a delay in the shipments of COVID-19 vaccine to the state.

Several counties here in the metro are now cancelling vaccine appointments over the next few days because of shipment delays.

In Cobb and Douglas counties, appointments for Saturday and Monday at two vaccination sites are now being rescheduled.

In DeKalb County, those people scheduled to receive the second dose of the Moderna vaccine Monday at two county vaccination sites will now need to reschedule for another day.