May 26, 2015

Snow falls in Upstate, but it is less than expected

Traffic drives through an estimated 1-2 inches of snow in Cherokee County (Image: SCDOT)

Traffic drives through an estimated 1-2 inches of snow in Cherokee County (Image: SCDOT)

Snow did indeed fall in South Carolina’s Upstate Wednesday night and Thursday morning — just not as much as forecasters predicted.

The winter storm moved out of South Carolina by mid-morning Thursday, leaving less than two inches of snow at all but the highest mountain elevations. The National Weather Service said no frozen precipitation was falling in the state early Thursday. Rural areas around Bethune and Chesterfield in the state’s northeastern corner also recorded between 1-2 inches of snow.

A winter weather advisory expired late in the morning. Air temperatures are generally approaching 40 degrees Upstate and mid-to-upper 40s across the rest of the state.

The National Weather Service reports the mountains in northern Greenville County got up to 4 inches of snow. The Greenville-Spartanburg area got less than 2 inches. About 1 inch was reported in the Rock Hill region. The highest levels of 6.5 inches were estimated in the Oconee County mountains near Georgia and North Carolina borders.

While Gov. Nikki Haley had declared a state of emergency to galvanize the state’s disaster response agencies, there was comparatively little need. Little more than 3,000 outages were reported statewide, with a majority in the Charleston area outside of the snowfall.

The state Department of Transportation and Highway Patrol reported no interstate closures.


Governor declares state of emergency for 31 counties as winter storm approaches

Image released by the National Weather Service showing predicted snowfall levels between Wednesday and Friday (Image: NWS)

Image released by the National Weather Service showing predicted snowfall levels between Wednesday and Friday (Image: NWS)

Gov. Nikki Haley has declared a state of emergency for 31 counties in South Carolina.

The governor’s action automatically activates the state’s Emergency Operations Plan, which allows agencies to coordinate their emergency resources. The state’s Emergency Operations Center has also been activated.

“Really the message everybody needs to know is once it hits 5:00, let’s clear out. Let’s head home,” the governor told reporters roughly an hour before signing the order. “Go ahead and start advising people now to make sure that we clear out earlier this afternoon as opposed to later, especially when it comes to the upper part of the state.”

National Weather Service forecasters are currently predicting about three to seven inches of snow in the Upstate and northern Midlands areas, from McCormick to Marlboro Counties.

The 31 counties affected by the order are Abbeville, Aiken, Anderson, Calhoun, Cherokee, Chester, Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Edgefield, Fairfield, Florence, Greenville, Greenwood, Kershaw, Lancaster, Laurens, Lee, Lexington, Newberry, Marlboro, McCormick, Oconee, Orangeburg, Pickens, Richland, Saluda, Spartanburg, Sumter, Union, and York counties.

Small amounts of snow in Upstate & Piedmont, more expected Wednesday

Greenville neighborhood on Tuesday morning (Image posted to Twitter by SC Natl. Guard)

Greenville neighborhood on Tuesday morning (Image posted to Twitter by SC Natl. Guard)

The first of two winter storms brought less than an inch of snow to the Upstate and a slight dusting to the Midlands.

But forecasters are really eyeing what’s coming next: much more measurable amounts of snow in the Upstate. Current models predict between 3 to 6 inches falling overnight Wednesday in Anderson, Cherokee, Greenville, Oconee, Pickens, Spartanburg, Union, and York counties. A Winter Weather Advisory is currently in effect for those counties. A Winter Storm Watch is in effect for the rest of the Piedmont region, and drops down to include Chesterfield, Fairfield, Lancaster, Kershaw, and Newberry counties in the Midlands.

Meanwhile, the Midlands could see snow as well on Wednesday evening, with forecasts calling for no more than a few inches of accumulation in the northern counties of the region. But the temperature is predicted to hover around the critical 32-degree mark, so the precipitation may also fall as rain in southern areas of the region.

On Tuesday morning, a half-inch of snow was reported at the National Weather Service office in Greer. Temperatures remained below freezing all morning and are only expected to reach the mid-30s by afternoon. Schools in Greenville, Oconee, and Pickens counties were closed due to the weather, according to the Greenville News. [Read more…]

Record power usage reported as temperatures stayed below freezing overnight


Crews clean up damage from a winter storm in Saluda County earlier this week. (Image: SCDOT)

Unusually extreme cold temperatures across South Carolina on Friday morning led utilities to report an electric demand record as customers tried to keep warm.

South Carolina Electric & Gas reported its predominantly Midlands and Lowcountry customers used 4,970 megawatts of electricity during the 8 a.m. hour Friday. The previous record was 4,926 megawatts set in the summer of 2007.

Duke Energy Carolinas, whose South Carolina customers are primarily in the Upstate region, reported 21,101 megawatt-hours from 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. That exceeded the previous all-time peak record of 20,799 megawatt-hours set on January 30, 2014.

Duke Energy Progress, which covers the state’s northern and Pee Dee region, noted 15,575 megawatt-hours, in the same span. That exceeded the previous all-time peak record of 14,519 megawatt-hours set on January 8, 2015.

[Read more…]

More than 1,400 incidents reported along SC roads from winter storm

A fallen tree blocks part of Interstate 26 in Newberry County (Image: SCDOT)

A fallen tree blocks part of Interstate 26 in Newberry County (Image: SCDOT)

While the winter storm that hit the Upstate and Piedmont moves out of the state, highway officials say they’re still cleaning up the mess left behind.

Tallies from the Highway Patrol showed more than 1,400 incidents along South Carolina roads that were attributed to the winter storm as of 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

721 collisions and 434 trees or downed power lines were reported on South Carolina roadways from Monday afternoon to Tuesday morning, according to the Department of Public Safety. More than half of the collisions were in the Troop 3 region (Anderson, Greenville, Oconee, Pickens, and Spartanburg counties) alone. Another 208 collisions were reported in the predominantly rural Troop 5 region (Cherokee, Chester, Chesterfield, Fairfield, Lancaster, Union, York).

More than 246 stranded drivers and passengers were assisted statewide, while 88 abandoned vehicles were logged along highways and secondary roads across South Carolina.

The National Weather Service reported roughly a quarter-inch of ice had accumulated in most of the Upstate and Catawba regions, creating dangerous driving conditions. Highway Patrol spokesman Trooper David Jones warned the temperature is expected to fall below freezing again on Tuesday night, meaning some black ice could remain on less-traveled rural roads.

More than 100,000 South Carolina customers lost power at one point during the storm. That number had only dropped to 92,000 by 1:30 p.m. Thursday, according to the state Emergency Management Division.