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Snow, freezing rain, sleet pelt Upstate

Heavy rains fell in the Columbia area for most of the day Friday, but in the Upstate, a winter storm resulted in blackouts and slick roads.

Looking out a window in Greenville on Friday, you'd never know that little more than 30 minutes north, the mountain landscape was awash in white. Those at the base of the foothills saw mostly rain.

By Friday evening, thousands in the Upstate were without power as high winds and frozen precipitation toppled trees onto power lines.

Bridges were reported to be icing over with little chance to improve before precipitation stops and highs reach 40 degrees today.

As Greenville County schools ordered early dismissal Friday afternoon, organizations with events planned for this morning have asked participants to wake up a little earlier and await rulings on whether road and sidewalk conditions will allow for plans to proceed.

Roads could be "treacherous" depending on what part of the region you live in, said John Tomko, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

More than 6,000 homes were without power in Upstate counties Friday evening.

Snow blanketed mountainous regions in northern Greenville County on Friday, especially at the highest elevations in places such as Caesars Head.

In areas south of Greer, moisture from the massive storm that pushed upward from the Gulf of Mexico resulted in mostly sleet and rain that turned to freezing rain during the night, Tomko said.

Winds gusting up to 38 mph toppled trees onto cars and forced Christmas shoppers to dash into stores to escape the chilling wind.

Creeks swelled with the downpours, creating blockages on familiar roads prone to flooding.

North of the state line, areas such as Hendersonville and Asheville prepared for double-digit levels of snowfall that left work crews struggling to keep roads clear. States along the northeastern seaboard began preparations for a major blizzard today.

In Taylors, firefighters worked to remove a large tree that had fallen across a car on Strange Road near Brushy Creek Road. It was only one of many uprooted trees that became more susceptible to winds because of the wet ground.

Snowfall early Friday forced the South Carolina Highway Patrol to turn back drivers on U.S. 25 near the Cliffs communities and the North Carolina line and caught Department of Transportation crews by surprise.

Crews that were on-call didn't find out about hazardous conditions on U.S. 25 until late-morning Friday.

By then, road conditions had deteriorated to dangerous levels, stranding cars and big rigs and leaving a mile-long line of vehicles waiting to get through. The road re-opened before noon.

"At noon we activated everybody," said Ryan Dannelly, head engineer for the Greenville County office of the state transportation department. "Mostly because we were getting so much snow in the mountains and the worry was that if all those guys are in the mountains and it turns into snow on the interstate, we've got nobody to clear the interstate."

HEAVY RAIN IN CHARLESTON

Police shut down many roads leading to downtown Charleston as heavy rains across the South Carolina coast and an approaching high tide flooded numerous streets.

Officers were keeping traffic from entering downtown on Interstate 26 and the James Island Connector on Friday night. Police say at least two dozen roads in Charleston are flooded.

The National Weather Service reports downtown Charleston picked up more than 3 inches of rain Friday, and some areas nearby reported up to 6 inches of rain.

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