Remembering crippling ice storm, one year later

Remembering crippling ice storm, one year later

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Thursday's spring-like weather with temperatures expected to reach the 60s was very different from the same date one year earlier.

On Feb. 12, 2014, a winter storm was dumping snow, sleet and freezing rain across the Lowcountry and causing damage some compared to that of Hurricane Hugo.

Gov. Nikki Haley declared a state of emergency as the winter storm moved into South Carolina, with forecasters predicting up to eight inches of snow in parts of the state and up to an inch of ice in others.

According to weather spotters, Smoaks, Harleyville and Cross each received an inch of ice. Summerville, Moncks Corner and Knightsville received three-quarters of an inch, and Ladson and St. Stephen saw a half-inch.

West Ashley picked up slightly more than a quarter-inch, while North Charleston and Johns Island received less than a quarter-inch of ice.

Most of Charleston County escaped the amount of accumulation that would cause serious damage. However, areas of Dorchester, Berkeley and Colleton counties weren't as lucky, with ice causing major damage to trees and power lines.

Nearly 350,000 customers statewide were without power at some point during the storm.

The Electric Co-operatives of South Carolina reported that number had dropped to around 133,000 by the following day. Coastal Electric Cooperative, which services Walterboro, reported damage "of historic proportions," including more than 50 broken utility poles.

Power crews worked 16-hour shifts to get electricity back on as quickly as possible, but some customers were told it would be up to three weeks before they could expect to be back online. Fortunately, by Feb. 22, crews were able to restore power to all affected areas.

Two days after the storm, on Valentine's Day, Haley toured the areas across the state hit the hardest by the winter storm, beginning in Aiken County and traveling to Colleton County where she met with SCE&G utility crews.

"What we know is an ice storm is so much more damaging than a hurricane," Haley said.

Colleton County native and Dist. 121 Rep. Kenneth Hodges called the damage the worst he'd seen in the county in decades.

"I've been in this county all of my life and I don't think I've seen anything like this since Hurricane Gracie in 1959," Hodges said.

The Arthur Ravenel Bridge remained closed for 51 hours. The closure began around the start of the storm because of the danger of icy road conditions, and remained in effect until police and SCDOT engineers determined accumulated ice on the bridge's cables had melted and the roadway below was safe for traffic.

The state's timber industry reported losses at $360 million, roughly a year's harvest.

On March 12, the White House approved Haley's request for federal disaster relief after damage was reported at more than $430 million to the state.

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