An extreme cold front ran into saturated clouds over South Carolina Feb. 10, resulting in one of the worst ice storms in South Carolina history. Trees snapped in almost every part of the state, but the worst damage hit a corridor from McCormick County south to Colleton County and then east to Williamsburg County.
About 364,000 homes or businesses lost power as ice and freezing rain fell several times through Feb. 14. Some residents were without power for weeks. The event tested the state’s emergency preparedness more than any hurricane in the past decade. Generally, the power companies and emergency officials drew praise for working together to reduce traffic hazards on icy roads and to help those without power.
The damage tally came to $54 million in costs for government agencies and utilities and $360 million in damage to the timber industry.
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In response to the ice storm, the S.C. Emergency Management Division staged its first Winter Weather Awareness Week in early December, reminding about the importance of preparing for storms.
In the Midlands, falling trees did so much damage to Kensington Mansion in Lower Richland that the historic home remained closed at the end of the year. Also, the upper boardwalk at Congaree National Park was still closed in December, though the National Park Service had the rest of the trails open and re-marked by the end of the summer.
State highway officials are considering a $9 million electric pulse system that could prevent icing on the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston, where falling ice chunks damaged vehicles after the storm.