Georgia Today: Brutal cold on the way, health care with no insurance, judge unexpectedly dies
On the Tuesday Dec. 20 edition of Georgia Today: Brutal cold is on the way, Georgia clinics for workers without insurance, and a Georgia Court of Appeals judge has died.
Peter Biello: Welcome to the new Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Tuesday, Dec. 20. I'm Peter Biello. On today's episode. Brutal cold is coming to Georgia this week. A Georgia Court of Appeals judge has passed away. And if you have a job but don't have health insurance, there are more than 100 clinics across the state you can go to. These stories and more are coming up on Georgia Today.
Peter Biello: A cold front is expected to move into Georgia late this week. Right now, the forecast for middle and North Georgia shows temperatures will fall below 20 degrees Thursday night. Sam Marlow, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, says they are still working to pinpoint where the possibility of snow will be. But the biggest thing to watch right now is the wind chill that could be worsened by 30- to 40-mile-an-hour wind gusts. He says to have a plan in place for the cold weather.
Sam Marlow: Know what they need to be watching out for. So the elderly: make sure they're staying in contact, making sure you're watching after pets. Pets that are especially those that hang out outside, making sure to have kind of things ready in your car in case something does happen so that you are prepared in colder weather.
Peter Biello: That can include a first aid kit, cellphone chargers and extra water and food. He also says to dress warmly. We're going to have a little more insight into the weather and what it could mean for your travel plans later in this episode.
Peter Biello: There are almost 100 charitable care clinics in Georgia offering free primary health care and other services to working people without health insurance. GPB's Sofi Gratas reports on a charitable care clinic in Macon celebrating two decades with some new community investments.
Sofi Gratas: The Macon Volunteer Clinic only sees a very specific kind of patient: working, uninsured adults earning no more than twice the federal poverty level — or about $27,000 a year for an individual — who don't qualify for Medicaid. But at the volunteer clinic, they can access primary care and other specialty services, like dental exams, totally free of cost, without charitable care. These patients don't have many options, says executive director of the clinic Nancy White.
Nancy White: They fall through the cracks. They've always fallen through the cracks of a health care system.
Sofi Gratas: A new $400,000 grant from nonprofit hospital Piedmont Macon will fund X-rays and ultrasounds for patients of the clinic over the next two years. Another grant from faith-based contracting company Metro Power so far has paid for upgrades to the clinic's women's health services, like a new exam chair and privacy curtain.
Nancy White: So this is so nice. You know, these are pretty standard.
Sofi Gratas: White says. People going to emergency rooms for primary care or those who forgo care altogether because of its cost are exactly the type of patient the clinic's looking to recruit.
Nancy White: If they're uninsured, a single episode of a health care issue could just decimate them financially, and they'll just never get ahead.
Sofi Gratas: The clinic celebrates 20 years in February. For GPB News, I'm Sofi Gratas in Macon.
Peter Biello: A Georgia court of appeals judge has died. The court said yesterday Judge Clyde Reese died unexpectedly on Saturday after a short hospital stay. Gov. Nathan Deal appointed Reese to the 15-judge Appeals Court in 2016. He was elected to a full six-year term in 2019. Rees and two cousins were the first Black students to integrate Pace Academy and Atlanta Private School in 1969. The three became the first Black students to graduate from the school in 1976. Clyde Reese was 64.
Peter Biello: And Albany Coat Drive has kicked off just in time for some of the coldest weather South Georgia has seen in many years. Division of Family and Children's Services worker Elainna Browner says she and her partners so far have collected 100 coats to give away to those in need.
Elainna Browner: You see the people, you know, at the bus station and you just pray that they have somewhere to go, you know, during the cold weather. So it's just one of those situations where it kind of influences you to want to give back.
Peter Biello: Browner says she got the idea to organize a coat drive long before this week's frigid forecast. They gave away their first coats and jackets on Saturday. The current forecast calls for temperatures on Friday to dip below 20 degrees in Albany for the first time in nearly eight years.
Peter Biello: Extremely cold temperatures are expected to spill across Georgia later this week. In some areas, highs may struggle to get out of the 20 and low 30. So what does that mean for those looking to travel this holiday season? For insight, we turn to Dave Hennen, CNN Weather senior executive producer and meteorologist. Dave, welcome to Georgia Today.
Dave Hennen: Thanks, Peter. Good to be here.
Peter Biello: So, Dave, I saw that in some places in Georgia, the low is going to be 13, 14, 15, closer to Christmas Day. Is that accurate? Is it going to be that low?
Dave Hennen: It is. It is going to be. It is going to be pretty close to records around Georgia. Not truly records, because the benchmark year was kind of 1983 when there was this massive cold push that impacted a good part of the country. But it is going to be cold. It looks like the high Christmas Day is going to be 33, 34, and that would put us in the top five of coldest Christmas is in Atlanta on record. And those records go back well, you know, to the early century. So it is — it is cold, no doubt. And when you compare to last year when we had 70 degrees, many remember how warm it was here around the holidays last year. It is going to be quite a change from that.
Peter Biello: Wow. Indeed. If you have to go back to 1983 to remember a time like this that seems like this is pretty rare.
Dave Hennen: It is. Yeah, this it is historic and it's going to be even colder on Christmas Eve. So we have only had three Christmas Eves when the temperature in Atlanta did not make it above freezing, and this is likely to be another one. So again, some kind of rare air there to be that cold so early in the season.
Peter Biello: Can you tell us a little bit about what weather pattern or what weather science is behind what's making it so-cold — so cold this time around?
Dave Hennen: Sure. Yeah. So we have this extreme dip in the jet stream. So that jet stream that is kind of that river of air at about 40,000 feet, it's called the jet stream because they discovered it in World War II as the airplanes were flying over Japan, they were hitting 200-mph winds and nobody even knew that the jet stream at that point existed. But that jet stream is what drives the storms that, you know, move across the country — and, you know, the storms that impact Atlanta. And in this case, we have a big dip in the jet stream from Canada that runs down to Georgia and many areas in the South. So all of this cold air which has been bottled up around the Arctic is suddenly let loose and literally pours, like pouring a bucket of ice from Canada down into the U.S. And that is going to cause these extreme temperatures that are going to be very widespread. It's not just Atlanta. We're looking at wind chill factors starting tomorrow up in Montana to be 50 to 60 degrees below zero. So this blast of cold air kind of originates in the Arctic. There's snow cover this time of year over much of Canada. So that air, which is cold up near the Arctic, doesn't have a chance to warm because it's running over that cold snow cover and then dumping into the U.S. and it's going to make it all the way to the South. So every state in the lower 48 will see a freezing temperature. It looks like 80% of the population over the next seven days are going to see a temperature below freezing. That's a big number for this early in the season.
Peter Biello: And what about ice and snow? Are we going to see in Georgia any ice and snow on the road? If so, where and what will that mean for travel?
Dave Hennen: I think we're — in Georgia, we're going to be okay. So there is this first system that kind of comes through it a little bit earlier in the week that might bring us. It looks like some rain will be that kind of cold. 38, 39, 40 degree rain. We may see a little bit of snow up in the North Georgia mountains, but the big event as far as storms go is later on this week, we have this massive storm that's going to kind of take shape in the Rockies. It's going to move into the plains, going to move into the Midwest. And that is going to drop a lot of snow in a lot of places. Big cities in the Midwest, like Chicago, will have some pretty serious travel impacts from Thursday and Friday.
Peter Biello: So what will that mean for air travelers in Georgia? Maybe not so much a problem for people who are in Georgia, but perhaps the destination they're flying to is going to be treacherous.
Dave Hennen: Yeah, it could very well. We could see some delays in Georgia later on this week just because of the wind. So not only are we going to see these cold temperatures, we are expecting 20- to 30-mph winds. So the wind chill factor here in Georgia is going to be down in the teens, single digits, perhaps at times. As far as air travel goes, like you said, not really snow Atlanta. So we shouldn't be impacted by that. Could see some minor delays in Atlanta because of the winds. But if you have Midwestern plans — you're flying to Chicago or have a connection through Chicago, especially Thursday into Friday, maybe early Saturday — there could be some cancellations. And it's possible that even O'Hare, you know, what is the second biggest airport in the world behind Atlanta, could actually close down for a time if the computer models are spinning out over a foot of snow, 50-mph winds. That would cause whiteout conditions and nothing would be able to travel on that.
Peter Biello: All right, Dave, so it seems like what I'm hearing from you is if you're traveling to the Midwest, definitely prepare for some troubles, build some extra time in if possible. But if you're staying in Georgia, maybe a little extra time on the roads, but definitely bundle up and don't panic.
Dave Hennen: Exactly. Layer up, get some wood for the fireplace now before it's sold out, because it is going to be — it is going to be cold and it is going to be cold for a while. I mean, we're cold already. And temperatures are only going to get colder as this kind of secondary Arctic surge kind of makes its way into Georgia.
Peter Biello: All right. Grab your earmuffs. Dave, thank you so much.
Dave Hennen: Sure. Peter, Good talking.
Peter Biello: And who is going to win the 2022 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Peach Bowl this year? A matchup of Ohio State and the Georgia Bulldogs? Well, it's going to be the Bulldogs if you ask Yang Yang the Panda, the 25-year-old male giant panda at Zoo Atlanta, entered his day room habitat today to find two identical boxes painted with team logos and first tore into the box labeled Georgia. So Georgia is going to win. The zoo announced the results today and added that Yang Yang is an ambassador for Zoo Atlanta's most significant long-term investment in wildlife conservation. The Peach Bowl will be held on New Year's Eve in Atlanta.
And that is it for today's edition of Georgia Today. For more news from GPB, check out our Georgia Today newsletter at GPB.org/Newsletters and visit our website GPB.org/News any time. Your feedback is appreciated, of course. Send it to us by email. The address is GeorgiaToday@GPB.org.
I'm Peter Biello. Thank you so much for listening. We'll see you tomorrow.