Winter weather headed to SC; Gov issues state of emergency

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP/WCIV) - Forecasters say snow and ice are a certainty this week in much of South Carolina. But they are trying to figure how much will fall and how long it will last.

That will determine whether this week's storm is a potential disaster or just a nuisance like the winter weather two weeks ago.

Governor Haley has declared a State of Emergency for the winter storm, effective at noon Tuesday.{} The Governor has also waived the weight limitations for trucks, delivery equipment, materials, services, and supplies while the State of Emergency is in place.

The South Carolina Emergency Management Division and members of the State Emergency Response Team have activated the South Carolina Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) at Operation Condition 3 (OpCon 3).{} OpCon 3 is the state's prepared level when a disaster or emergency situation is likely. Under normal circumstances, they run at OpCon 5.

The National Weather Service says some light sleet and snow could fall Tuesday, but the heavier amounts won't begin until early Wednesday morning. Forecasters expect more snow in the Upstate, where up to eight inches could fall.

Freezing rain will be the bigger problems in the Midlands, where a quarter to one inch of ice could weigh down power lines and trees. Temperatures were above freezing early Tuesday, but Greenwood, Newberry and Winnsboro reported light snow.

The Charleston County Emergency Management Department held a weekly weather briefing to discuss the Winter Weather Watch that has been issued for northern Berkeley and Dorchester Counties. Charleston County is not in the watch area.

In Charleston, state and local leaders met with Gov. Nikki Haley to discuss storm preparations and the previous winter weather storm.

The mayors and police chiefs of Charleston and Mount Pleasant, joined by Charleston County officials, state representatives and senators, and several DOT officials, met Monday afternoon in Joe Riley's office.

"Although the state received positive reviews for the response to Storm Leon, reviewing how we can improve the process is common sense and something Governor Haley believes is critically important. Today's After Action Review meeting in Charleston is a great example of this and is one step in the larger effort of ensuring we continue providing the best services possible during these types of events," said Haley's spokesman, Doug Mayer.

In a report from the SC Department of Transportation,{} crews in the Upstate and Midlands are prepping by checking equipment and reviewing plans. Lowcountry and Coastal crews are expecting mainly rain and some are even sending their trucks to Columbia to replenish their salt inventories.

With a second winter weather system heading toward the state, the Carolina Lowcountry Chapter of the American Red Cross is urging residents to take steps now to stay safe when severe weather threatens.

"We are watching this storm system closely and urging everyone to have a plan for severe weather," said Louise Welch Williams, regional chief executive officer, American Red Cross, Palmetto SC Region. "The weather models are showing a wintery mix with freezing rain, snow, and ice for our area, so people need to prepare." {}

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

WCIV contributed to this report

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