NEWBERRY COUNTY – For the second time in as many weeks, Newberry County and the rest of the Midlands woke up Tuesday to snow-covered ground, freezing temperatures and the expectation of worse conditions to come, all thanks to Winter Storm Pax.
Gov. Nikki Haley declared a State of Emergency on Tuesday afternoon, which opened up the State Emergency Operations Center for 24-hour service and allows the use of assets and resources of the state government.
Crews from the S.C. Department of Transportation are working on rotating 12-hour shifts applying salt and other anti-icing/deicing materials, according to the SCDOT website.
Sixteen crews had been deployed from the low country to the upstate Tuesday afternoon to assist with snow removal operations.
Winter Storm Pax moved into the area overnight Monday and began dropping snow by early morning Tuesday and didn’t let up – a status quo we can expect for the next few days in the Midlands, according to the National Weather Service.
Meteorologist Steve Nalgic said snow will continue throughout Wednesday and areas of the county could see total accumulations of 2 to 6 inches by the end of the day.
The lower end of the county could see the precipitation change to freezing rain by late Wednesday but Nalgic expects snow and sleet for Newberry County.
“We briefed the governor (Tuesday afternoon) and expect the worst of the frozen rain to be south of I-20,” Nalgic said.
He also urged people to stay home and to avoid travel if at all possible.
Temperatures hovered around freezing for most of the day Tuesday and began falling as the day wore on, but the snow kept falling throughout most of the area.
Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster said Tuesday afternoon that there had been no major problems in the county but noted that more snow and wintry weather was on the way.
“The worst of it will be (Wednesday). As of now (Tuesday afternoon), we’ve had some reports of roads being slick but nothing that is impassable,” he said.
He encouraged motorists to use extreme caution if they felt the need to travel.
Wednesday’s forecast calls for the snow and sleet to stay in the area before turning to freezing rain after 11 a.m. but the high is not expected to crack 30 degrees. The wind, at 15 mph or higher, will be a contributing factor for damage we see in the area.
New ice accumulation is expected up to a half inch, according to the National Weather Service.
Wednesday night is looking like a mixed bag, with freezing rain and sleet staying in the area until around 3 a.m., turning to sleet between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. then finally turning to snow and sleet after 5 a.m.
The low overnight Wednesday is expected to be around 27 with winds out of the north at 13 to 17 mph, again upping the possibility for damage from downed trees and other wind damage.
The weather forecast for Thursday begins to look a little better, with the wintry weather continuing into the morning but tapering off to rain around noon before turning mostly cloudy.
The high will climb to around 39 and the winds will begin dying down.
Thursday night’s lows will be around 27 then Friday will dawn mostly sunny with highs in the upper 40s, possibly cracking 50.
In the event you do lose power, AAA advises to avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer as much as possible to keep the temperature lower for a longer period of time. Unplug all appliances and leave only one light on to prevent a power surge.
Prevent pipes from freezing and bursting by keeping your home heated to a minimum of 65 degrees, open faucets enough to let them drip slowly and disconnect hoses from outside spigots. If pipes freeze, thaw them immediately or contact a plumber for help.
In the event you do lose power, utility companies warn residents to not get near downed power lines or attempt to remove downed power lines from vehicles, homes, or other structures. Instead, call your power supplier and report the downed line.
If you lose power, check with neighbors if you can to determine if they still have power.
Be sure to have warm clothes, candles, a battery-powered radio, plenty of blankets and other warm clothing, especially if you have children or elderly persons in your home.
At night, leave water dripping from spigots to help keep the pipes from freezing. If they do, be aware that they could burst as the water expands.
AAA, the SCDOT and the S.C. Department of Public Safety advise motorists to not attempt to drive in winter weather conditions and to remember that if the driving conditions are bad for you as a driver, they are also treacherous for emergency responders and other law enforcement.