UNION COUNTY — The threat of severe winter weather had schools closed, utility crews on standby to deal with any power interruptions, and transportation personnel taking steps to combat ice on the roads.
Along with the rest of the Upstate, Union County was under a winter storm warning on Friday. The storm system that was passing through the county brought with it below freezing temperatures, bitterly cold wind, and precipitation that initially began as rain with some wintry mix and then became freezing rain.
Meteorologist Bill Martin with the National Weather Service in Greer said that as of 1 p.m. Friday Union County was in the middle of the winter storm system that was passing through the area. Martin said that the biggest threat to the county was freezing rain. He said that as of 1 p.m. the county had received from a tenth of an inch to a quarter of an inch of freezing rain.
Martin said that the storm system could bring another one tenth to one quarter of inch of freezing rain through the remainder of Friday and into early Saturday morning. He said the freezing rain should come to an end sometime after 1 a.m. Saturday followed by a few hours of light snow after which conditions should improve.
Cancellations And Postponements
The threat of severe winter caused the Union County School District to cancel classes Friday and the Union County Carnegie Library to be closed both Friday and today.
USC Union operated on a delayed basis Friday with classes beginning at 11 a.m. The campus closed early at 2:30 p.m.
The threat of severe weather also lead to the postponement of Southern BBQ Network training class that had been scheduled for this morning at the South Carolina Work Upstate office on Main Street in downtown Union. In a statement released Friday morning, SBN Secretary/Treasurer Mike Wright said that the class was being postponed until Feb. 6, but would take place at the same location.
“We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused anyone but feel that everyone’s safety is our first priority,” Wright said.
As of noon Friday, the SC Department of Transportation reported that “conditions throughout the state include rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow. Temperatures currently range from a high of 38 to a low of 24 degrees. Temperatures are expected to fall as the day progresses bringing possible icy conditions to roads and bridges. Travelers should exercise caution, especially on bridges as they will freeze before the roadway. SCDOT forces have begun working rotating 12-hour shifts utilizing snow plows and applying salt and other anti-icing materials. Assisting crew from District 6 (4 crews) and District 7 (8 crews) have been dispatched to York and Cherokee Counties, respectively. Also, approximately 175 tons of salt is being delivered to Spartanburg County from the Columbia Salt Dome.”
In Engineering District 4, which includes Union County, the SCDOT reported that “current conditions ranging from rain in Fairfield and Union to sleet/freezing rain in remainder of the district. Temperatures range from 27 to 33 degrees. Cherokee, Chester, Lancaster, and York reports roads covered or partially with snow and ice. They report several accidents in Chester County, but no backups at this time, as they continue to plow and apply brine. The remainder of the district reports road conditions as being wet. The District is working rotating 12 hour shifts, and will continue this for the duration of the storm. They continue to apply deicing and anti-icing materials on interstates and primaries.”
Severe winter weather brings with it the possibility of broken tree limbs or even downed trees falling across power lines and cutting off electricity to homeowners and businesses.
City of Union Utility Director Joe Nichols said early Friday afternoon that the city had experienced only one outage due to the weather.
“We’ve only had one reported outage so far,” Nichols said. “That was off of Lakeside Drive on Callahan Road. A tree fell down across the power line. Power was out for less than an hour and only two or three customers were affected.”
Nichols said that the city utility department was ready to respond having stocked on all necessary supplies and getting all of its equipment ready.
“We’ve got everything stocked up, we’ve got the chainsaws sharpened and everybody’s ready to go,” Nichols said.
If a City of Union utility customer experiences an outage they can call the City of Union Utility Department during business hours at 864-429-1717. If the outage occurs after hours they can call 864-429-1707.
In a statement released Thursday afternoon, Josh P. Crotzer, Member Services Coordinator Broad River Electric Cooperative, stated that the BREC “is prepared for any significant loss of service to its members due to the year’s first winter storm. Power restoration crews from Pike Electric and Asplundh Tree Expert Company have been brought in to assist existing crews if major outages occur. Crews from cooperatives in other parts of the state are also on standby, if needed.”
The statement quoted Cary Johnson, Broad River Electric’s Supervisor of Operations as saying that “We are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. Our guys are always ready for any kind of trouble, but we’re glad to have help from other crews when storms come. I know our members are, too.”
Crotzer stated that “communication from Broad River member-owners is also crucial. Those who lose power can call (864) 489-5738 from Cherokee County or (866) 266-7688 toll free from other counties.
“There are also other options to report an outage, such as through texting, the co-op’s smartphone app or online. Broad River Electric members should visit broadirverelectric.com to find out more.
“The website, which includes an outage map, as well as the Broad River Electric facebook page and twitter account (@BroadRiverCoop) will provide up-to-date information about the outages and helpful tips.”
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090 or email@example.com.