What are the coldest days in the history of Cobb County?

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What are the coldest days in the history of Cobb County?

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The Big Chicken is barely visible as snow falls late Wednesday afternoon on Cobb Parkway. (CHRISTIAN BOONE / CBOONE@AJC.COM)

When some stories are told, the fish gets bigger, the fence you hopped gets taller or the concert crowd gets larger.

In that same way, winters get colder and the snow gets thicker the longer the memory has to defrost.

So don't let folks lie to you about this year or that year being the coldest ever in Cobb County.

The most reliable and oldest meteorological data in Cobb dates back to 1960, said Sid King, a forecaster with the National Weather Service.

That's how far back reports have been coming from volunteers at Dobbins Air Reserve Base.

These aren't the quality-controlled numbers from the federal weather agency, King said, but it's the best they have.

Between the meteorological data and newspaper archives, you can get a feel of those bone-chilling records:

1.2 degrees on Jan. 17, 1977

"This weather is killing batteries left right," Pepper Roberts, a salesman at automotive department of the J.C. Penney in Cumberland Mall, said at the time.

Battery sales were up 300 percent.

A staff photo from a Jan. 19, 1977, edition of The Atlanta Constitution showing snow and traffic on I-75 south in Forsyth County. AJC Archives

Factories and schools throughout metro Atlanta closed after pleas from natural gas suppliers. There wasn't enough gas to heat everyone and everything.

Gov. George Busbee asked all Georgians to reduce their thermostats by three degrees. 

-0.6 degrees on Dec. 13, 1962

Two days after that record temperature was recorded, The Atlanta Constitution published a story saying 25 people statewide had been killed in weather-related incidents.

Most of the deaths were caused by fires. Cars failed all over Georgia, causing numerous traffic tie-ups and wrecks.

At the time, it was the "bitterest cold wave ever to strike Georgia in December," The Atlanta Constitution wrote.

Cracked pipes and folks without water for days was the norm in metro Atlanta.

A staff photo from a Dec. 14, 1962, edition of The Atlanta Constitution.  AJC Archives

-2.6 degrees on Jan. 30, 1966

Two Marietta boys, ages 5 and 7, went out to play and went missing that day.

A search party of 75 people battled subfreezing temperatures for six hours to find the boys. They found them 2½ miles from their home.

They were rushed to Kennestone Hospital as a precaution. By the time they were found at 4 p.m., the temperature was 25 degrees and rapidly dropping. 

The day after the record, there were 30 to 40 Dallas homes reported without natural gas for a few hours.

"The shortage was caused by unprecedented demand on our system," Tom Lee, the manager of the city's gas company told The Atlanta Constitution.

A photo from Jan. 30, 1966 editions of The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution. AJC Archives

He said they "took precautionary steps to see that adequate gas pressure was maintained for two local hospitals and two local nursing homes."

An Austell gas company asked its residential and commercial customers to limit gas use.

Spokesman Art Latimer said "his company's system was not designed for weather under 10 degrees."

-2.7 degrees on Jan. 21, 1985

Like the mercury, crime was also low.

"Criminals are just like everyone else, apparently, they want to say out of bad weather, said Bob Hightower, Cobb's public safety commissioner.

He made another astute observation: "Not too many police agencies will have that many robberies or other major crimes. We will see an increase in assaults, however, if people are trapped in their houses for a few days."

A Cobb police lieutenant said there were six burglaries over the weekend leading into the Monday temperature record. That's about half of what they usually saw.

It seems people also weren't fishing.

Ice formed on Little River, which connects to Allatoona Lake, when the temperature reached 14 a fisherman told the newspaper.

The low in Anchorage, Alaska, about the same time was 27 degrees.

The owner at Mableton's Battery Warehouse & Supply Co. said he'd sold more than 300 car batteries that day.

The next day he sold 200.

He said he had to turn away people pounding at the doors.

A staff photo from a Jan. 25, 1963, edition of The Atlanta Constitution. AJC Archives

-3.6 degrees on Jan. 24, 1963

The Atlanta Constitution called "Georgia's arctic winter storm" the "worst this century."

Four people died on icy roads in the state, the newspaper reported the day of the record.

Cobb's was the only school system in metro Atlanta that closed its schools the day after the record.

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On Jan. 29, the newspaper ran a wire story with a headline of "167 Dead in U.S. As Arctic Wave Tightens Grip."

A 20-mile section of the Mississippi froze. Some cities saw more than a hundred inches of snow over a few days.

In case you were wondering, the lowest low in Atlanta's history was -9 on Feb. 13, 1899.

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