South Carolina officials remind residents about winter preparedness ahead of colder months
WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — La Niña is a weather pattern that has an impact on winter weather. According to the National Weather Service, it generally means a mild winter for southern states.
However, as past La Niña winters have demonstrated, snow and ice storms can impact even states like South Carolina.
“Winter storms can and do happen in South Carolina even during La Nina conditions when for the most part we expect slightly warmer and dryer conditions,” said John Quagliariello, NWS Columbia meteorologist.
Ice and snow can cause power outages and impact travel. The Department of Transportation does their part to prepare as soon as winter weather is detected.
“At that point, we will pretreat all the roads, interstates and especially bridges. They’re the most vulnerable resources that we have,” said Leland Colvin, SCDOT deputy for engineering. “Then we’ll go into our pushing operations. We’ll start on the interstates. They will be our top priority as far as pushing snow and ice and then our primary routes as well and any roads connected to emergency facilities, hospitals and shelters.”
Highway patrol also sees accidents on roadways caused by skidding vehicles.
“These collisions may be caused by motorists unexpectedly encountering black ice, bridges or overpasses that ice before the roadway and drivers traveling too fast for conditions and not leaving enough distance between them and other vehicles,” said Cpt. Christian Logdon of South Carolina Highway Patrol.
When you get off the roads and back inside, there are dangers as well.
The state fire marshal says that half of heating related deaths occur in winter months.
“If you use any kind of fuel fired appliance, make sure that your home is equipped with carbon monoxide alarms. These are critical because carbon monoxide is what we call a silent killer,” said Jonathan Jones, state fire marshal. “It’s odorless, you can’t see it and it can certainly affect you especially when you sleep.”
Jones also recommends having a working smoke detector that is less than 10 years old.
Another problem in winter months is the increased numbers of respiratory illnesses. DHEC says everyone should consider getting a COVID and flu vaccine and follow health guidelines.
“We recommend wearing a mask. We recommend social distancing when possible. If you’ve got ventilations in your home, make sure it’s on,” said DHEC director Dr. Edward Simmer. “Good ventilation also helps with COVID. That’s why we say don’t panic with this new variant. The same techniques we’ve been recommending all along for delta will help with omicron as well.”
While South Carolina may not be far north, past years have shown that winter storms can happen in any part of the Palmetto State.
“We have to think statewide. From the mountains to the beaches, you need to be prepared for any event,” said Brig. Gen. Jeff Jones, South Carolina adjutant general.
Having a winter readiness plan will help you and your family be prepared for whatever threat comes your way this season.
For more information about winter preparedness, visit SCEMD.org or download their South Carolina Emergency Manager app on your phone.