Crews 'on standby' as wintry mix of snow, ice expected in Aiken County

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Jan. 21—Aiken County could see a mix of snow, sleet, rain and freezing rain this weekend, according to the forecast from the National Weather Service in Columbia.

The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for Aiken County from 1 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday.

Rain is likely, mainly after 4 p.m. Friday. Less than a tenth of an inch of precipitation is expected.

After sundown, snow, freezing rain and sleet are likely before 1 a.m. Saturday. Then there is a slight chance of snow between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. Saturday.

Based on the National Weather Service prediction, there could be total snow accumulations of up to one inch and ice accumulations of a light glaze as the temperature drops to around 25 degrees. Saturday's high will be around 41 degrees with a low around 23 degrees.

"Plan on slippery road conditions," the National Weather Service said in the advisory. "The hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening commute ... Slow down and use caution while traveling."

Emergency planning

"We're on standby," said Aiken County Emergency Management Director Paul Matthews at around noon Friday. "We're obviously watching it (the weather) and participating in conference calls with the state's Emergency Management Division and the National Weather Service. But we haven't done anything beyond that yet.

"South Carolina Emergency Management does a disaster intelligence briefing with us," he continued, "and they're not anticipating any major power outages in Aiken County. Now that's not to say that there couldn't be some general, spotty outages. Due to the wind, there could be occasional branches falling and stuff like that."

Matthews added that "people need to be worried about black ice" Saturday morning.

Aiken County Administrator Clay Killian reported that the Roads and Bridges Division of the county's Public Works Department had "all its vehicles ready to go" if the South Carolina Department of Transportation asks for assistance.

"There is a list of DOT roads that we scrape if they have snow on them and if DOT calls us," he added. "I think it is about a dozen."

The county's Buildings and Grounds Department has "salted" sidewalks and driveways at Emergency Medical Services stations or has made sure that salt is available to put down in those locations "in case it (wintry weather) starts (to cause problems)," Killian continued.

He said the county wanted emergency vehicles to be able to leave and return to the stations "without any trouble" and also wanted to prevent county employees and others from slipping and falling.

Power companies

Dominion Energy is mobilizing across the state in preparation for the weather.

More than 2,000 company employees are engaged in storm response across South Carolina, as well as approximately 100 additional line workers from utilities in Tennessee and Alabama, according to Paul Fischer, senior communications specialist, who spoke with the Aiken Standard on Friday.

Dominion's Aiken operations facility is located at 132 Langley Dam Road in Warrenville, where equipment and vehicles are staged and ready for action.

Fischer said trees and tree limbs are the main reason for outages and can create dangerous travel conditions, which can sometimes limit access for crews.

For Dominion customers who suffer an outage, Fischer said they should report the issue through the Dominion app or online at dominionenergy.com.

Other tips during a storm, Fischer said, are to have an emergency kit packed, which can include bottled water, non-perishable food items and a flashlight, and to stay away from any downed power lines.

"Every storm is different, but we want our customers to know that our level of preparation remains the same," Fischer said.

Aiken Electric Cooperative said it is continuing to monitor the weather conditions and is prepared should its service territories be affected by ice and snow this weekend.

Aiken Electric crews and additional contractor crews have their trucks fully equipped and are on standby in the case of inclement weather.

If members find themselves experiencing an outage at any time, the quickest way to alert the dispatch center is by calling or texting "OUT" to 1-877-264-5368. Members can also report outages through the AEC mobile app. A live outage map can be viewed at aikenco-op.org.

Check back with Aiken Standard. This story will be updated as new information becomes available.