Snow day at the beach as snow and ice come to South Carolina
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — It was a snow day all the way down to the beach in South Carolina on Wednesday as a powerful storm pushed snow and freezing rain into areas of the state that hadn’t had a major winter storm in eight years.
The snow and ice shut down more than a dozen bridges and halted all flights at the Charleston International Airport. Forecasters say 5 inches (13 centimeters) of snow fell at the airport, making it the third heaviest snow at the site since records were first kept in 1938.
Up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) of snow fell in Summerville, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) inland from downtown Charleston, and 4 inches (10 centimeters) of snow fell in Bluffton.
Snow even covered the grass in front of the iconic Harbour Town lighthouse on Hilton Head Island.
“It’s a great day to stay home,” Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said.
And the people who did venture out in Charleston didn’t get very far. Periodic bridge closures and icy spots slowed down nearly every major highway to a crawl. The major bridges on Interstate 526 were closed for a time Wednesday afternoon.
Interstate 95 was nearly an icy parking lot for almost all of its 200 miles (322 kilometers) in South Carolina. Troopers couldn’t keep up with the number of reported wrecks which numbers into the hundreds.
No fatalities were reported from the storm, state Department of Public Safety Director Leroy Smith said.
Gov. Henry McMaster asked people who got snow to stay home. Temperatures weren’t expected to rise above freezing until well into Thursday, and McMaster said not venturing out would keep first responders safe.
It was the first major winter storm along South Carolina’s coast since 2010. Only storms in December 1989 and February 1973 saw more snow in Charleston.
Schools all across eastern South Carolina either were closed Wednesday or let out early. Charleston County schools already announced they would be out the rest of the week.
Chris Monoc, his wife and two sons, ages 4 and 2 were amazed by the snow in Charleston. Monoc said it looked like a snow globe outside his house a little over a mile from the iconic Ravenel Bridge near downtown Charleston.
“As soon as he saw the snow, my kid asked, can we go sledding? And I was like, ’Oh, heck, we don’t have a sled here. This is Charleston. But then I figured we can get a cookie sheet or something,” Monoc said.
Cookie sheets weren’t the only makeshift sleds in South Carolina on Wednesday. Social media had people riding flattened cardboard boxes and even boogie boards.