Columbia’s ice storm history

jholleman@thestate.comJanuary 27, 2014 

While South Carolinians worry about hurricanes, ice storms actually have been the most damaging of weather disasters in South Carolina.

That’s worth noting with the potential for a solid coating of ice and snow over South Carolina Wednesday. The forecast is for up to half an inch of ice in some areas before the winter precipitation turns to snow. Ice can crack tree limbs onto power lines. Snow on top of ice can make the limbs even heavier.

Four of the seven major disaster declarations since 2000 in South Carolina have been for winter storms (the others were for tropical storms), and most of the damage was from ice.

•  In late January 2004, a winter storm socked the I-20 corridor, with hundreds of thousands of people losing power from Aiken to Florence. The worst damage was in Edgefield, Aiken and Orangeburg counties. About $20 million in private insurance claims were filed, government agencies incurred $28 million in expenses and SCE&G spent nearly $15 million to repair damage.

•  In late January 2000, two storms — one mainly snow and the next three days later and mainly ice — shut down the coastal region. Columbia residents remember the first snowy blow of that month because it came on quickly in the afternoon, leading to four-hour commutes home among snow-befuddled drivers.

•  On Dec. 15-16, 2005, an ice storm hit the Upstate, causing millions of dollars of damages, hitting the Furman University campus especially hard.

•  On Dec. 4-6, 2003, an ice storm did massive damage to Upstate counties.

•  A Feb. 11-13, 2010 winter storm included some of the heaviest ice accumulations in the Pee Dee, but the damage didn’t quite reach FEMA major disaster levels.

•  One of the most infamous ice storms in state history was in February 1969, when 45,000 homes were without power in the Midlands for more than two weeks.

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