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'It's going to be serious': SC governor urges caution, says state is prepared for winter storm

The state could see dangerous driving conditions and major power outages.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster says people in the state must stay alert and informed for the winter storm, but that the state's agencies are prepared to handle what may come. 

McMaster spoke Saturday afternoon, one day after issuing an executive order declaring a state of emergency. 

"This is going to be a pretty bad storm," McMaster said. " The good news is it is coming on a holiday weekend." 

McMaster let the head of the state's emergency services, highway patrol, National Guard, and Department of Transportation give updates on what they're prepared to do. McMaster warned that despite all the effort, some people might be without power for three to four days.

"It's going to be serious but we could not be more prepared then we are right now," McMaster added.  

Something new for this winter storm? SCDOT said there will be 62 wreckers going around the state to clear vehicles as soon as they can and they'll have crews ready to remove trees that may fall in the roads. 

The National Weather Service forecast predicts significant snow, sleet, and ice starting early Sunday morning, impacting much of the Upstate and Midlands. The northern Midlands: Newberry, Kershaw, and Fairfield Counties--are under an ice storm warning. 

“The Governor’s Executive Order puts our plans into motion and let’s state agencies best coordinate any resources that may be needed in the days ahead," said SCEMD Director Kim Stenson. "We have experienced ice storms before, and we’re as prepared as we can be to respond to any requests for aid from our local emergency managers. It is vital for people to meet us halfway in this effort by being personally prepared for this winter storm.”

Motorists need to prepare for winter weather driving before a winter storm hits, especially those living in the Upstate or areas of our state that see more severe winter weather conditions. The South Carolina Highway Patrol urges motorists to check the weather forecast frequently and stay informed before and while traveling because conditions can deteriorate rapidly. Troopers will be monitoring the roadways for hazardous road conditions during weather events and working with our partners to respond as quickly as possible.

The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) started pretreating roads and highways Thursday and has prepositioned equipment and personnel in key areas throughout the state.

Residents should remember the following winter safety precautions:

  • During winter storm weather, it is best to stay off the roads for unnecessary travel. If you must travel, ensure your vehicle is in good condition. Check the fluids, battery, and tires. Ensure that your phone is charged and you have extra blankets and snacks in case of delays. Call 911 for life-threatening emergencies only.
  • Remember to keep a full charge on your cell phone and mobile devices so they can be used during an emergency.
  • If you lose power, know how to report the outage to your utility company and have alternate, safe means of staying warm.
  • Monitor local media for information about warming shelters opened by local organizations.
  • Freezing temperatures can burst water pipes in homes without heat or proper insulation. Wrap exposed pipes or take other measures to insulate them from the cold.
  • Keep alternative heating sources prepared. If you have a fireplace, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood. Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure your family knows how to use them.
  • Properly vent kerosene heaters to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, do not burn charcoal indoors. Carbon monoxide poisoning can result from charcoal fumes indoors.
  • Never operate a portable generator indoors.
  • Keep fresh batteries on hand to use with flashlights and NOAA tone-alert weather radios.
  • Provide some options for outdoor pets and domestic animals to stay warm and to have access to food and water.
  • Check on anyone who may need extra help during winter weather.
  • The official South Carolina Severe Winter Weather Guide contains checklists and tips on how to prepare for a winter storm. The guide is available for download at www.scemd.org


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