SC Electric cooperatives make final preparations in advance of d - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

SC Electric cooperatives make final preparations in advance of damaging ice storm

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Columbia, SC -

A disruptive, potentially crippling winter storm is forecast to affect a broad swath of central South Carolina over the next 36 hours. With predictions of ice accumulations in excess of a half-inch, the state's electric cooperatives are preparing for the potential of widespread power outages.

"This is the kind of scenario you never want to see," said Todd Carter, vice president of loss control and training at The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina. "Ice storms of this magnitude can cause extensive damage to our system.  Unfortunately, it looks like a large number of homes are probably going to lose power in the coming days."

In advance of the storm, 22 line workers from Kentucky arrived in the state today to assist with power restoration efforts. Storm coordinators, as part of a mutual aid agreement among co-ops, will participate in a conference call Wednesday morning and determine whether additional reinforcements are needed.

"If this storm produces an inch of ice, we're going to need as much help as we can get," said Carter. "Right now, we have almost 300 linemen on stand-by to help. We'll draw crews from Mississippi, Florida, as well as more linemen from Kentucky. We'll decide Wednesday morning whether we have to call them in."

Wednesday's weather forecast for the Midlands predicts more than 12 straight hours of freezing rain combined with strong gusty winds. Carter says the public needs to be prepared to be without power for an extended period.

"We're hoping the forecast is wrong," says Carter. "But folks should be ready. There's potential for widespread damage. If the predictions hold up, we'll be facing a monumental job in the upcoming days."

Ice Storm Facts

  • Ice can increase the weight of tree branches by 30 times. Falling limbs are a prime source of downed power lines.
  • A ½" accumulation of ice on power lines can add as much as 500 pounds of extra weight.
  • In 2009, a southern winter storm that produced an inch of ice knocked out power to more than 1.3 million people in Arkansas and Missouri, causing more than $1.4 billion in damages.

Safety reminders for the public

  • Always assume that downed power lines are energized and dangerous. Please report downed power lines to your local electric cooperative or emergency authorities.
  • Residents need to prepare to remain in a safe shelter without electricity for many hours. Obtain necessary supplies such batteries, medicine, flashlights and a battery powered radio.
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