UNION COUNTY — Just two weeks after another storm forced schools to close and created roads conditions resulting in more than 40 automobile accidents, Union County is once again in the path of a winter storm system forecast to leave up to four inches of snow and ice in its wake.
On Tuesday, Jan. 29, classes were dismissed early by the Union County School District in the face of a winter storm system that at the time was expected to drop up to four inches of snow on some parts of the county. The Union County Courthouse also closed early and the towns of Lockhart and Carlisle canceled their council meetings that had been scheduled for that evening.
Though the storm dropped only an inch of snow on the county, it brought with it below freezing temperatures that covered Union County’s roads with ice from Tuesday into Wednesday afternoon. The icy roads conditions forced the schools, the courthouse, USC Union, the Union County Carnegie Library and other local organizations to remain closed Wednesday and area churches to cancel services.
In addition, the icy roads were the primary cause of 42 automobile accidents throughout the county, four of them involving jacknifed 18-wheelers. Two of the accidents involving the 18-wheelers resulted in sections of the roads they occurred on be closed to traffic until the vehicles involved could be removed.
Only a few of the accidents, however, resulted in injuries, and none of those serious of life-threatening.
Two weeks later, Union County is facing yet another winter storm that is also expected to bring snow and ice to the county.
Jeffrey Taylor, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Greer, said Monday that there is a low pressure system coming up out of the Gulf Mexico which will develop today and Wednesday. Taylor said the system will deepen and strengthen as it tracks northeast and will bring the deeper moisture needed for snow. He said the cold air which is the other element needed to form snow is already is already in place in the area.
Taylor said that the weather service’s “best estimate” is that the system will produce 2-4 inches of snow and up to half an inch of ice in Union County.
In response to the county’s being placed under a Winter Storm Watch by the National Weather Service, local officials were preparing their agencies and departments to be ready to respond to keep the roads clear and the power on.
“We’re in the process of getting our salt spreader ready to put out liquid salt and salt crystals,” Union County Public Works Director John Gibson said Monday morning. “We’re also going to be running our sand truck putting out sand.”
Gibson said that should the storm develop as forecast, his department’s first priority will be to ensure that the county’s emergency response agencies and medical institutions are able to function.
“Just as soon as it looks like we’re going to be getting some snow and ice we’ll be pretreating the areas around the hospital, around the nursing homes, at 911 and the other emergency response agencies, and our bridges,” Gibson said. “We’ll also be using our snowplough and other equipment to push snow aside.”
City of Union Public Service Director Perry Harmon said his department is preparing for the weather by checking its dump trucks, bush trucks, chainsaws and other equipment that may be needed. Harmon, who is not only over the city’s Street Department, but its Sanitation Department as well, said his biggest concern at the present time is the impact the weather will have on garbage collection.
“If it’s impassable or dangerous for the trucks we will slide the schedule,” Harmon said. “Tuesday’s collections will slide over to Wednesday’s or even Thursday’s. If we get a window of opportunity tomorrow we’ll try to get that trash up.”
Lockhart Power COO Bryan Stone said company personnel “are performing our normal snow and ice preparations. We’re checking and doublechecking our equipment that we would use to respond to any outages or other issues.”
In addition to making sure their equipment is ready, Stone said company personnel are also checking the power lines. He added that company personnel are also ready for the storm.
“We’re always performing line checks to make sure there are no problems, so we’re doublechecking our lines,” Stone said. “Our people are aware this system is coming in so they’re ready to respond over the next several days and nights.”
Stone said that anyone on the Lockhart system who has their power interrupted should call 864-545-2211.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, Ext. 14.