UNION COUNTY — The possibility of a brief visit by winter weather to Union County had the agencies responsible for keeping the county’s roads clear on standby Thursday.
Tony Sturrey, warning and coordination meteorologist, for the National Weather Service in Greer, said Thursday afternoon that Union County could expect to see rain throughout the day turning into a mixture of rain and snow overnight with possible accumulation of less than half an inch of snow.
While Union County was not under a Winter Weather Warning or Winter Weather Advisory, Sturrey said York and Cherokee counties were under advisories.
“They’re expected to get rain changing into snow before diminishing or ending shortly 1 a.m. or 2 a.m.,” Sturrey said. “An inch of accumulation is expected, but is there is what we call ‘banding’ where the snows sets up and there doesn’t move there could be locally higher amounts.
“There is also a small chance of a brief period of freezing rain, but most will be a mixture of rain and snow changing into snow,” he said. “So the possibility exists for some black ice issues early in the morning.”
Though Union County is not under an advisory like York and Cherokee counties are, Sturrey cautioned that this could change and urged the public to monitor weather forecasts for their area.
“We’re still evaluating conditions,” Sturrey said. “The situation remains fluid, so right at this point it could change, either later this afternoon or this evening. Everyone should keep up their weather forecasts.”
The possibility that the weather could get worse had the local office of the S.C. Department of Transportation working extended shifts on Thursday.
“There has been a snow/ice event declared by Columbia,” Phil Hinson, resident engineer for SCDOT’s Union County Office said. “That is not an alert that something is coming. It’s just that we are here if something does. We are on 12-hour shifts today and tonight and until the event is canceled.”
Hinson said 16 of his office’s 32 employees will be working from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and the other 16 from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
In addition to the personnel being present at the office on U.S. 176 around the clock for the duration of the snow/ice event, Hinson said the winter weather equipment is also ready to go.
“We have 10 of our trucks equipped with snow plows and salt and sand spreader,” Hinson said. “We also have two brine trucks. Brine is a salt and water combination which we spray on the roads and bridges. We won’t be spraying it now because the rain would just wash it away, but if it were to get colder we would spray it first on the bridges because they get colder and freeze faster and then we spray the primaries.”
Also on standby Thursday was the Union County Public Works Department.
“We’ve got an on call list and if anything happens we’ll be here,” Director John Gibson said. “We’ve got a scraper to scrape the roads. We also have a sprayer that puts out a liquid salt solution that melts ice.”
While based on current weather reports he didn’t anticipate the road division employees of his department having to come in and clear the roads, Gibson said “we can if we’re needed.”
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.