Midlanders dig out from fifth snowiest day on record - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Midlanders dig out from fifth snowiest day on record

A child enjoys her first snowfall (Source: Denise Derriso) A child enjoys her first snowfall (Source: Denise Derriso)
Snow covers a Blythewood house (Source: Beth) Snow covers a Blythewood house (Source: Beth)
Source: Lindsey Thornton Source: Lindsey Thornton

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – Friday night's winter weather will go down as one of the snowiest nights on record in South Carolina.

According to officials at Columbia Metropolitan Airport, 8.6 inches of snow fell there. That's the fifth snowiest day on record. The highest snowfall amount in Columbia history was on Feb. 10, 1973, when 12.3 inches of snow fell.

  1. 12.3" 2/10/1973
  2. 10.2" 2/25/1894
  3. 9.9" 2/25/1914
  4. 8.8" 12/11/1958
  5. 8.6" 2/12/10
  6. 6.8" 2/13/1899

Columbia saw 5.5 inches of snow Friday night at Owens Field.

Barnwell and Sumter saw 3 inches, Winnsboro and Newberry saw about 5 inches while Camden, Irmo and Orangeburg each saw about 6 inches.

Reports from Horry County show accumulations from 2.3 inches in Aynor, to 2.5 inches in Conway, 3.5 in Myrtle Beach, 4 inches in Conway and as much as 4.5 inches in Loris.

On the electricity side of the weather, SCE&G had at least 10,000 outages reported at one point in the Columbia/Lexington area. Power crews were working to restore outages all across the state. Most outages were reported in the southeastern coastal areas of the state.

The rare blanket of snow was blamed for more than 1,500 car crashes, about 37,000 power outages and hundreds of canceled sports events across South Carolina.

The rare snowstorm and freezing temperatures created hazardous driving conditions. The Highway Patrol said there was a fatal, single-car accident in Richland County Friday night. Investigators had not determined whether the weather caused the crash.

The Orangeburg area is often spared when snow makes its way into South Carolina, but not this time.

A few hours of sunshine and by mid-morning, at least some of the six inches of snow that fell in Orangeburg was on the way out.

It was a far different scene Friday night. Most roads were covered by snow and ice, and much of the city staying inside and hunkered down.

Saturday morning, as the sun broke over a frozen landscape, the people of Orangeburg and those passing through who took shelter began digging out.

"We see this in Pennsylvania, but we never expected it here in South Carolina," said Kathy Senknc. "Never in a million years."

State DOT crews had already worked throughout the night to clear Interstate 26 and a number of the main roadways.

As Saturday temperatures warmed into the 40s, secondary roads, parking lots and sidewalks began returning to normal on their own.

This snowfall might have been the heaviest Orangeburg has seen in 30 years.

In Lexington County, the snow kept Bill Wright and his wife Dale from making their way home to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They had to book an extra night at the Quality Inn

"It's amazing, I grew up in Columbia," said Dale Wright. "The city is not geared for snow."

The locals we caught up with didn't seem to mind the white weather.

"I like to watch the kids get out and enjoy it, it's been 10 years since we had a good snow," said Lexington County native Rick Plyler.

While Plyler says he loves the snow, he says he knows the dangers too.

"I'm just worried about tonight, like Ken Aucoin said when everything freezes up tonight, that's when there are going to be limbs start snapping and we got to worry about power outages and everything," said Plyler.

And it's for those exact reasons that the Wrights are taking extra precautions.

"We were supposed to get home by this afternoon, but we decided to wait until tomorrow to get home," said Bill Wright.

"A lot of people weren't prepared for this much snow to be on the roadways," said Lance Corporal Josef Robinson.

That's why Highway Patrol troopers were called to so many wrecks Friday night. At the height of the snow storm, they fueled at least 500 calls all at once.

"So many calls of collisions, stranded motorists, disabled vehicles in the roadway," said Robinson.

The incidents were typical for South Carolina winter weather, but some could have been avoided.

"Drivers must drive slow on bridges and overpasses and in shaded areas on rural roads," said Robinson.

Temperatures are expected to drop overnight ,and when they do, you can expect melting snow to freeze.

"Don't panic," advised Robinson. "Take your foot off the accelerator, allow the vehicle to gradually slow down."

Common sense can save you a headache, whether snow is on the ground or not.

"When you approach an intersection, apply your brakes early," said Robinson. "Don't follow too close. Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. If they would just follow these simple rules, I think we would have less collisions out here on our roadway during icy weather."

Like most people in the Midlands, people in Kershaw County received the most snow they've seen in years.

Six inches of snow covered the ground by the end of Friday night in Kershaw County. The heavy snow was a surprise to many in Camden, but for one Camden boy, it was a birthday wish come true.

"I was sort of wishing for snow and I got snow," said Cooper Ellis.

Ellis' 11th birthday will probably stand out from the rest, making snow angels with his sister and a snowman with his mom, all in a front yard that has never looked so white.

"This is the first big snow we've had, I guess last year we had a dusting, but nothing like this," said Sloane Ellis. "It's beautiful."

"Everything's white," said 9-year-old Riley Ellis, whose first snowman was just the start of a new world to explore through the weekend.

The school buses, the playground equipment and everything else through Camden share the same six-inch powdery coating that Sloane hasn't seen since she was a kid.

"There's a silence that you hear and there's no cars out, it's just a peaceful, beautiful, beautiful scene, and I love it," Sloane said.

Copyright 2010 WIS. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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