Meteorologist Brad Nitz has your Friday early evening weather forecast.

Smoke to return to metro area this weekend


Today: Sunny. 80

Tonight: Clear. Low: 48

Tomorrow: Windy. Partly cloudy. High: 59

» For a detailed forecast, visit The Atlanta Journal-Constitution weather page.

Atlanta missed a record high by one degree Friday as the metro area also experiences near-record dryness.

Atlanta hit a high of 79 degrees about 5 p.m., just one degree away from the 80-degree record. It hasn’t been that hot on this day in Atlanta since 1985, Channel 2 Action News reported.

The heat comes amid a record-nearing 33 days without measurable rain. That record was set Oct. 21, 1884, at 39 days. The current dry spell will tie the second-longest trend, set Oct. 14, 1935.

The dryness may not be good news, but the warmth and smoke-free conditions certainly are.

Winds blowing smoke from wildfires in the North Georgia mountains began to shift Thursday from north to south. Breezes will stay along south and southeast courses Friday.

Greg Abbott of Conyers took advantage of the mild weather and went fishing Friday in Stone Mountain. JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

The Air Quality Index was in the code orange level of 82 in metro Atlanta at 10 p.m., according to AirNow, which keeps track of air quality changes. Air quality has been a problem most of this week, even worsening to a code red for “unhealthy” air that puts everyone, not just those with respiratory issues, at risk.

Temperatures were 62 degrees in Atlanta, 46 in Blairsville and 50 in Griffin at 10 p.m.

The next chance of rain is a 20 to 30 percent chance in far North Georgia and a 10 percent chance in metro Atlanta on Saturday. That’s also when the wind direction is expected to shift again and send more smoke to metro Atlanta.

Wind speeds could reach 30 mph, and gusts could get up to 35 mph, which may prompt a wind advisory, meteorologists said.

A freeze watch issued for parts of North Georgia likely won't have much impact on the fires, Channel 2 meteorologist Brad Nitz said. 

"The low humidity and strong winds this weekend will lead to a high fire danger," he said. A freeze watch is issued when temps are expected to drop to 32 degrees or lower on or after March 20 and before Nov. 20. 

More wind and little rain is not good news amid historic dryness, sending about 75 percent of the state into one of the two worst categories of drought, “exceptional” or “extreme.”

Weather conditions have been so dry, they triggered stiff new watering restrictions in 52 Georgia counties Thursday.

The restrictions, which limit outdoor watering to two days a week, also ban power-washing homes and watering at outdoor fountains and car washes. They affect most of metro Atlanta and North Georgia.

» The Air Quality Scale used in Atlanta:

“Good” AQI is 0 to 50. Air quality is considered satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk.

“Moderate” AQI is 51 to 100. Air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people. For example, people who are unusually sensitive to ozone may experience respiratory symptoms.

“Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” AQI is 101 to 150. Although the general public is not likely to be affected at this range, people with lung disease, older adults and children are at greater risk from exposure to ozone, whereas persons with heart and lung disease, older adults and children are at greater risk from the presence of particles in the air. “Unhealthy” AQI is 151 to 200. Everyone may begin to experience some adverse health effects, and members of the sensitive groups may experience more serious effects.

“Very Unhealthy” is AQI is 201 to 300. This would trigger a health alert signifying that everyone may experience more serious health effects.

“Hazardous” AQI is greater than 300. This would trigger a health warning of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected.

» Here are tips from the Georgia Department of Public Health:

Pay attention to local air quality reports and news coverage related to smoke.

Keep indoor air as clean as possible, keeping windows and doors closed.

Run an air conditioner, and keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean.

Avoid activities that increase indoor pollution such as vacuuming, burning candles or using fireplaces or gas stoves.

Do not rely on paper dust masks, which will not protect your lungs from the small particles found in wildfire smoke.

Follow the advice of your doctor or other health care provider if you have asthma or another lung disease.

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