Icy temperatures and tornado watches ring in New Year

  • Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dan Brown/Independent The two-day stretch of sub-freezing temperatures on Jan. 5 and 6 resulted in an icing over of the water fountain in Unity Park.

This is South Carolina. It’s not supposed to get this cold.

Don’t they see the palm trees?

Such were the grumblings of many Berkeley County residents slapped with low temperatures in the teens and winds gusting to near 25 mph during the first week of the New Year that dipped the wind chill needle to near zero.

The sub-freezing temperatures were recorded on Wednesday, Jan. 8.

By Saturday temperatures jumped to 75 degrees and the humidity hung like a wet sweater. Heavy rain and tornado watches were the order of the day.

The icy weather played havoc with traffic, furnaces, and even the local power grid as temperatures plummeted over a 36-hour period beginning Jan. 5 – 6 of last week.

Approximately 200 Berkeley County SCE&G customers went without power on Tuesday due to a rolling blackout by the Cayce, SC based utility in order to accommodate its highest megawatt consumption over a 24-hour period since 2007.

According to a SCE&G release the record cold temperatures across the state led SCE&G electric customers to set a new record for power usage in a single day, consuming 101,118 megawatt hours of electricity.

The previous high mark of 98,785 megawatt hours was set on Aug. 10, 2007.

Because of the weather, Berkeley County School District students enjoyed a three-hour delay to the beginning of the second half of the 2013-2014 school year, according to a BCSD release.

Moncks Corner Fire Dept. Chief David Miller said the cold weather proved uneventful for the town and surrounding area.

“We didn’t experience any major problems in town over the cold spell,” Miller said, though he did add the wind sparked a small brush fire in Pinopolis. “With the cold we advise residents to check their furnaces and if using space heaters make sure they are free of obstruction.”

According to the U.S. Fire Administration’s website www.usfa.fema.gov, residents are advised to take necessary precautions in cold weather to minimize the threat of fire in the home.

Tips include proper steps to follow when resorting to alternate power or heat sources in the home such as generators, space heaters or firewood.

Don’t place generators or portable gas heaters inside the house; don’t hook up generators to the power supply, run them directly to the appliance. Ground before using.

Be careful to keep electric space heaters away from materials that can burn.

Ventilate fumes from firewood.

If electricity fails, gas ovens and some gas water heaters can be lit by hand.

Make sure smoke alarms and fire extinguishers are working.

Never use a barbecue grill indoors for cooking or heating. The carbon monoxide fumes are toxic.

Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as space heaters.

Never smoke in bed.

Talk to your children regularly about the dangers of fire, matches and lighters and keep them out of reach.

Turn portable heaters off when you leave the room or go to sleep.

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