Ahead of winter storm, SC governor says to prepare to be without power for several days

YORK COUNTY, S.C. — During a news conference Saturday afternoon, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said crews have been preparing for the winter storm for several days.

A major concern for the state is ice and freezing rain that the storm is expected to bring.

McMaster said they have equipment prepositioned and are pretreating roads. Officials are asking people to prepare to stay at home, possibly without power, for several days.

“There may be some places where we could be out of power for three to four days. So, it’s going to be serious but we could not be more prepared than we are right now,” he said.

McMaster declared a state of emergency Friday as South Carolina workers spent the day getting state roads ready for the storm -- particularly preparing for ice.

Crews are very concerned about the combination of ice and wind expected to hit many of Channel 9′s South Carolina counties, and they are begging everyone to be prepared.

The state’s Department of Transportation crews have been mixing brine and spent all day Friday spraying it on the roads, hoping to lessen the impact of the storm.

>> We want to see what’s happening in your neighborhood. You can submit pictures and videos as the storm hits, right on the homepage of our app.

Channel 9 meteorologists say local South Carolina counties could see an inch of snow early Sunday -- but their biggest concern is for freezing rain and ice, especially in York and Chester counties.

“You got that very thin layer of invisible, thin ice on the road and it’s really like riding on a sheet of glass,” said South Carolina Highway Patrol Master Trooper Gary Miller.

Highway Patrol is warning drivers to take the storm seriously and slow down.

“If you don’t absolutely have to travel, don’t,” Trooper Miller said. “If you have things you need to do, do it ahead of time.”

Inside York County’s emergency management center, officials told Channel 9 all the expected ice combined with 20 to 30 mile per hour winds could topple trees and lead to massive power outages.

“Be prepared to be without power,” Miller said. “We like to say in emergency management that the first 72 is on you, so try to be prepared for 72 hours without power. Hopefully we’ll never see that length of time.”

So the key word here is prepare. Be ready to stay inside, and have everything you need in case you lose power.

SC Gov. Henry McMaster declares State of Emergency ahead of winter storm

Gov. Henry McMaster issued a state of emergency of Friday in preparation for the expected winter storm. In a statement, he urged South Carolinians to monitor local weather conditions and take winter safety precautions.

McMaster is expected to hold a news conference on Saturday along with the SC Emergency Management Division to provide updates on the storm.

“There is a potential for very dangerous conditions caused by accumulations of ice and snow, which will likely result in power outages across the state,” McMaster said in a statement. “I urge South Carolinians to monitor their local weather forecasts and begin taking safety precautions. We will hold a media briefing tomorrow afternoon to update residents with the latest information on this winter storm.”

“The Governor’s Executive Order puts our plans into motion and lets state agencies best coordinate any resources that may be needed in the days ahead,” said SCEMD Director Kim Stenson. “We have experienced ice storms before, and we’re as prepared as we can be to respond to any requests for aid from our local emergency managers. It is vital for people to meet us halfway in this effort by being personally prepared for this winter storm.”

Drivers should prepare for winter weather driving before a winter storm hits, especially those living in the Upstate or areas of the state that see more severe winter weather conditions. The South Carolina Highway Patrol urges motorists to check the weather forecast frequently and stay informed before and while traveling because conditions can deteriorate rapidly. Troopers will be monitoring the roadways for hazardous road conditions during weather events and working with our partners to respond as quickly as possible.

Residents should remember the following winter safety precautions:

  • During winter storm weather, it is best to stay off the roads for unnecessary travel. If you must travel, ensure your vehicle is in good condition. Check the fluids, battery, and tires. Ensure that your phone is charged and you have extra blankets and snacks in case of delays. Call 911 for life-threatening emergencies only.
  • Remember to keep a full charge on your cell phone and mobile devices so they can be used during an emergency.
  • If you lose power, know how to report the outage to your utility company and have alternate, safe means of staying warm.
  • Monitor local media for information about warming shelters opened by local organizations.
  • Freezing temperatures can burst water pipes in homes without heat or proper insulation. Wrap exposed pipes or take other measures to insulate them from the cold.
  • Keep alternative heating sources prepared. If you have a fireplace, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood. Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure your family knows how to use them.
  • Properly vent kerosene heaters to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, do not burn charcoal indoors. Carbon monoxide poisoning can result from charcoal fumes indoors.
  • Never operate a portable generator indoors.
  • Keep fresh batteries on hand to use with flashlights and NOAA tone-alert weather radios.
  • Provide some options for outdoor pets and domestic animals to stay warm and to have access to food and water.
  • Check on anyone who may need extra help during winter weather.
  • The official South Carolina Severe Winter Weather Guide contains checklists and tips on how to prepare for a winter storm. The guide is available for download here.

(WATCH BELOW: Why do we panic to buy bread & milk before a storm?)