Rare ice closes S Carolina bridges; now comes the real cold
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A rare shot of freezing rain and drizzle closed several bridges along the South Carolina coast on Friday.
The glaze of ice ruined commutes on the last business day of the years as commuters have no other nearby options to the high bridges over wide waterways from Charleston to Myrtle Beach.
By midmorning Friday, the sun was out and the bridges thawed. But the cold weather is staying in South Carolina and especially in North Carolina, where the governor signed an order allowing propane and other fuel to be more easily delivered before the most brutal of the cold weather arrives.
The worst traffic problems in South Carolina on Friday were in Georgetown, where ice closed the U.S. Highway 17 bridge over the Waccamaw River — the main route connecting Charleston to Myrtle Beach — for several hours, according to Midway Fire and Rescue.
Wintery weather is unusual along the South Carolina coast, which usually gets snow or ice maybe two or three times a decade. Bridges in Charleston and Myrtle Beach also iced over, causing closures and accidents before things improved.
Now attention turns to more than a week of well-below normal temperatures across the Carolinas. The National Weather Service said it is possible many places in North Carolina will spend two days with temperatures never rising above freezing.
The forecast pushed North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper to sign an executive order to help truck drivers get propane and other heating fuels into the state and delivered to homes and businesses more quickly.
The governor’s order means truckers who are limited to the number of hours they can be in their rigs don’t have to count the time they wait in line to have their tankers filled with propane or heating oil, said John Jessup, executive director of the North Carolina Propane Gas Association.
There is plenty of gas in North Carolina and the cold and dry weather is helping deliveries, Jessup said.
“What really slows us down is ice and snow. When it’s just cold we’re really busy but we can keep up with it,” he said.
Jessup said he knows a dealer who heard from a customer who uses propane for a gas fire place and hadn’t needed a fill-up since 2014 because the past two winters have been mild.
“So all those people are calling,” Jessup said. “That puts more demand on our dealers.”