Widespread power outages and impassable roads were chief concerns as officials cautioned residents to prepare before the storm hits the Augusta area.
The National Weather Service in West Columbia, S.C. issued a winter storm warning Monday afternoon, forecasting freezing rain, sleet and significant ice accumulations. The warning is in effect from 7 p.m. Tuesday to noon Thursday.
“This is a really bizarre storm for us,” said meteorologist Mike Proud. “It’s going to take a few days to pass.”
Between .4 and .5 inches of ice are expected in Augusta, said Proud, adding that ice storms in the past several years have measured about one-tenth of an inch. Freezing rain is expected to begin about 9 or 10 p.m. Tuesday.
“This is considerably more ice than we’ve seen,” he said. “It is something out of the ordinary.”
In Richmond and Columbia counties, emergency management teams placed salt trucks on standby and began preparations to remove fallen tree branches and report power outages if they happen.
The Richmond County Emergency Operations Center will be staffed around the clock beginning Tuesday afternoon, said Mie Lucas, the disaster preparedness coordinator. On Monday, officials reviewed emergency responses to the late January snowstorm that closed schools and offices for days.
“We just had snow two weeks ago so we are operating on best practices from that,” Lucas said.
Lucas advised residents to stay home, if possible.
Columbia County Emergency Management Director Pam Tucker said crews added two pallets of salt to stocks and replenished supplies of rocks Monday to treat roads and bridges.
Beginning Tuesday night, the temperature will hover around the freezing mark until Thursday when Augusta could begin to thaw out, Proud said. Thursday’s forecast predicts a high in the low 40s.