SC winter storm will bring ice, a foot of snow possible this weekend, forecasters say

A foot or more of snow is in the forecast for some parts of Upstate South Carolina, according to the National Weather Service, with snow and ice predicted to cause problems across the western part of the state and into the Midlands.

The first major winter storm of the year is expected to bring heavy snow and ice across western areas of the Carolinas starting Saturday, with the NWS predicting at least a foot of snow for much of the mountains and as far east as Charlotte.

As of Thursday morning, the NWS predicts five inches for Greenville, eight for Spartanburg, four for Clemson and five inches for Rock Hill.

“The main period of concern is Saturday night and Sunday, but could linger into Sunday night,” the NWS reported after a 4 p.m. winter weather briefing.

Along with the snow, ice in the form of sleet and freezing rain could be a major problem for some areas, with almost a quarter-inch of ice accumulation forecast from Union to Rock Hill, according to the NWS.

This storm could be historic for some areas, but we’re not sure what areas yet. Any time you’re talking about a portion of our area outside the mountains seeing a foot of snow, that’s a once in a generation event,” Trisha Palmer with the National Weather Service told the Greenville News.

The Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook for much of the state. The NWS warns that snow, ice and freezing rain could begin early Saturday morning and spread to the northeast. The heaviest snow and ice will likely be overnight Saturday into Sunday, according to the Weather Service.

The combination of winter weather is capable of causing power outages and creating difficulties for those traveling, according to the NWS.

For the South Carolina Upstate, the Weather Service notes, “Although amounts of ice remain uncertain, the potential exists for a corridor of significant ice accumulation across the area south of Interstate 85 Saturday night and Sunday morning, with some light snow possible Sunday night.”

snow forecast126.JPG

ice forecast126.JPG

Messy winter precipitation could continue into Monday, the NWS forecasts.

The weekend’s forecast is already changing some plans. The South Carolina high school football championships, scheduled for this weekend in Columbia, have been moved up to Friday.

In Columbia, the forecast calls for temperatures in the low 40s to high 30s with an 80 percent chance of precipitation Saturday, that will rise to 100 percent at night, according to the NWS. The heavy rain is expected to continue through Sunday, when the high temperature is expected to be 38 degrees.

Snow is not expected in the Midlands.

Anderson County canceled its annual Christmas parade, scheduled for Saturday, the county said on Facebook. Anderson, South Carolina can expect two inches of snow from the storm this weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

South Carolina’s Lowcountry and coastal areas can expect a lot of rain this weekend and into next week, according to the Weather Service. But temperatures predicted in the 50s, also makes snow highly unlikely.

Coastal cities could see three inches or more of rain between Saturday and Tuesday, WIS-TV reports. The rain totals further inland do not look much better, with more than two-and-a-half inches predicted for Aiken, Columbia and Florence, the station predicts.

The heavy rain could cause another issue, flooding. The NWS reported all of the precipitation could cause “minor flooding issues” from the Midlands south to the Lowcountry.

“A potentially very dangerous winter storm looms for much of the forecast area this weekend,” NWS meteorologist Lauren Carroll said, according to “And as the day-shift yesterday put it, ‘This could be a once-in-a-generation event for areas that experience mostly snow and ice.’ ”

Related stories from The State in Columbia SC

Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.
Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State focused on breaking news, public safety and trending news. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.