COLUMBIA (AP) — A mix of rain, sleet and snow fell across South Carolina on Tuesday as residents prepared for the state's second significant winter storm in as many weeks, and the governor issued a state of emergency declaration.
A winter storm warning issued by the National Weather Service was effect for much of the state into Thursday, with some areas in northwestern South Carolina predicted to get as much as 8 inches of snow.
National forecasters predicted up to 1 inch of ice was possible in the Midlands.
It's an amount that could have devastating effects on power lines and trees.
South Carolina hasn't seen a major ice storm since December 2005, when similar amounts of ice fell across the Upstate. At the time, Duke Energy estimated that 60 percent of its South Carolina customers lost power.
Snow, rain and sleet fell across much of the state Tuesday as Gov. Nikki Haley, after discussing the situation with emergency management officials, declared a state of emergency effective at noon Tuesday. The declaration triggers the National Guard to active duty – to support state agencies with its wrecker teams and four-wheel drive vehicles – and also activates the state's Emergency Operations Plan, through which all state agencies collaborate if assistance is requested by county emergency managers.
The order also puts into effect anti-price-gouging laws and allows the governor to take whatever other steps are needed to protect residents. A second executive order signed Tuesday waives limitations for trucks transporting emergency materials, equipment and supplies.
Some schools in central and northern South Carolina closed Tuesday, and others planned to dismiss classes early. The Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia opted to cancel outpatient services for Wednesday and said its clinics throughout the state would follow suit.
Power outages were reported in various areas on Tuesday, but the numbers fluctuated throughout the morning as fixes were made.
The last serious ice storm in the Midlands and Pee Dee was January 2004, with three-quarters of an inch of ice left 250,000 customers without electricity.
Light snow was reported Tuesday in nearly a dozen counties. Forecasters predicted up to 8 inches of snow could fall in South Carolina's Upstate, with about 3 inches in the north central part of the state. One inch or less was expected in other parts of the Midlands, as well as inland areas of the coast.
On Jan. 28, much of South Carolina saw at least an inch of snow, while the coast saw freezing rain. Most amounts were less than a quarter-inch, but it was enough to close the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston for more than 40 hours.
As was the case last month, the hazardous conditions weren't expected to last. Temperatures were forecast to be in the 50s by the weekend.
At a grocery store in Greenville, Judy Roberts, 37, stocked up on bread, milk, chips and drinks before settling in at home with her children, who she predicted would be off school for several days.
“I don't like driving in snow. But it's beautiful,” she said. “You have to make the best of it.”
In Greenville, auto mechanic Chris Robinson headed to Home Depot for batteries and other basic supplies. When wintry weather hit two weeks ago, he stocked up on a shovel and rock salt in anticipation of another round.
“Between the cold and the snow, this has been the longest winter,” Robinson, 41, said. “We need a break.”
Mitch Weiss contributed to this report from Greenville. Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP
Gov. Nikki Haley declares state of emergency in S.C.