The threat of winter weather is looming over inland Horry County and other parts of South Carolina and North Carolina, and a freezing rain advisory is in effect late Thursday and into mid-afternoon Friday.
The likelihood of freezing rain and a little sleet coming down will increase across areas of northeast South Carolina and southeast North Carolina as strong low pressure forms along the coast and spreads moisture over a cold-air mass, according to Steve Pfaff, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C.
Horry County Schools will continue on schedule Friday, according to district spokeswoman Teal Harding.
A glaze of ice up to 0.10 inches of accretion is possible for parts of advisory areas, especially on bridges and overpasses, but most of Horry County is expected to see little to no ice accumulation for most of Thursday.
The Grand Strand is under a freezing rain advisory until 1 p.m. Saturday, Pfaff said, with possible localized flooding from 1.5 inches of rain.
“Areas that receive freezing rain will experience hazardous driving conditions. The ground is already cold from the recent arctic air-mass, and rain would quickly freeze to road surfaces, especially bridges and overpasses. Isolated power issues are possible, especially where the heaviest accretion of ice occurs,” Pfaff said in a weather brief.
Light rain is expected to fall late Thursday night then transition into freezing rain overnight and continue into Friday morning before switching back to regular rain by late morning, weather authorities said.
The rain is part of a storm system moving along the East Coast which may – or may not, depending on movement – blanket the coast with ice and snow, Pfaff said.
Advisory areas include: portions of inland Horry, Darlington, Florence, Dillon, Marlboro, Columbus, N.C., Robeson, N.C., Bladen, N.C., and inland Pender, N.C. counties, according to officials.
Weather authorities urge that residents in affected areas continue to monitor the situation because subtle changes in the storm’s pattern or air mass could lead to changes in the position of the freeze line.
Rainfall amounts during the storm will be about an inch to two inches in some areas, and flooding is possible in low-lying and flood-prone areas.
“We’re currently monitoring conditions and keeping in contact with the National Weather Service in Wilmington,” Brooke Holden with Horry County Emergency Management said.
Holden said operating conditions were functioning at normal levels of 12 p.m. Thursday and said emergency officials had not been requested to offer any type of assistance so far.
Holden urged residents in affected areas to have emergency winter weather kits with batteries and flash lights ready, charge cellphones ahead of the storm, and continue to monitor conditions through media.
“Be aware. Stay inside. It’s going to be cold out there,” she said.
She also suggested that people who must be on the road keep an isolated coat, blankets, food, and water in their vehicles and encouraged wearing layers of clothing to stay warm.
Other winter safety tips include: wrapping exposed pipes, bringing pets indoors, checking on at-risk and elderly neighbors, and being aware of space heater safety, Holden said.
There were no plans to prep Horry County-maintained roads ahead of the storm, according to Lisa Bourcier, county spokeswoman.
However, South Carolina Department of Transportation is on stand-by to service Horry County with on-call crews ready to respond if necessary, officials said.
Upstate and midland areas are likely to be more impacted by the storm, and SCDOT crews will be working Thursday night in Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Marion, and Marlboro counties.