Winter Weather

“Prepare for the worst” is still the motto for emergency preparedness staff ahead of a possible ice storm this weekend.

The National Weather Service issued an ice storm warning stretching from the final moments of Saturday through Sunday night. The storm comes with risk of significant icing, with one-tenth to four-tenths of an inch of ice, minor snow and sleet possible in the lower Piedmont and northeast Georgia. The warning includes Greenwood, Abbeville and Laurens counties in the Lakelands.

The forecast changed rapidly all week, Greenwood County Emergency Management Coordinator George McKinney said, ranging from 8 inches of snow in Monday’s forecast to the ice storm warning issued Friday. He said residents should expect wind gusts up to 30 miles per hour, which alongside precipitation is a recipe for downed trees.

“The biggest impact that we’re looking at is road closures and power outages, and they could be significant across the area,” McKinney said. “If you’ve got a generator, get the generator ready. If they have medical needs, like an oxygen machine, either get a backup generator available or get a tank backup.”

Greenwood County’s staff started Thursday pulling additional resources such as bags of salt for defrosting roads and alerting emergency staff to be ready in case they’re needed. McKinney said staff members were sharpening saws to clear any downed trees that block roads or take down power lines.

The state Department of Transportation has spent recent days applying salt brine to major roads, including U.S. highways 221 and 25, and S.C. Highway 72 and the bypass. They also pre-treated roads around Self Regional Medical Center and other emergency facilities.

“SCDOT workers in high probability areas such as Greenwood County will be working 12-hour shifts around the clock starting Saturday and continuing throughout the duration of the storm,” said Robert Kudelka, DOT representative. “Forecasts may change. However, SCDOT earlier this week initiated its winter storm operations plan to counter a ‘worst-case scenario’ of winter weather conditions.”

Drivers are urged to avoid the roads during the snow and ice, and those who must travel should slow down and stay clear of road crews clearing and de-icing streets.

“The good thing about this storm is it’s coming in over a long weekend,” he said. “Still, people should be ready to sustain for two or three days without power, in case we do have major outages.”

He said people should prepare ahead of time, stocking up on what they need in the event of any prolonged power outages. Duke Energy staff are getting ready for outages, bringing in about 600 staffers from other services areas from the Midwest to Florida to help with power restoration across the Carolinas, according to a news release.

“The company has also secured approximately 1,000 workers from other utilities who are scheduled to arrive in the Carolinas by Saturday to help restore power quickly and safely to impacted customers,” the release said.

In Abbeville, Little River Electrical Cooperative Member Services and Communications Director Tricia Smith said “We’re ready for it. We’re always on standby waiting for it.” They have crews from lower state counties available to help, and have assigned places for co-op crews to wait for possible repairs.

McCormick County’s Emergency Services Director Chris Doolittle monitored weather forecasts while staying ready to act.

“Local government departments and our volunteer groups have also been placed on standby for possible activation Saturday and Sunday as needed,” he said. “We have coordinated with SCEMD and local state agencies to update contact information, and are preparing for potential ice.”