Frigid temperatures hit the Lowcountry

Water freezes in a sculpture-like formation on the fountain at Wragg Square odd Meeting Street near Charleston Museum. Leroy Burnell/Staff 1/7/2014. Buy this photo

The Lowcountry is braced for record cold today as strong arctic air blasted its way into the area.

A wind chill advisory was scheduled for early morning, and SCE&G expected record power usage by 8 a.m.

The frigid air settled into the Lowcountry overnight, dropping temperatures into the teens and generating piercing wind chills that made it feel like temperatures in the single digits.

Kim Stenson, director of the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, said it would be even worse in some Northern states but there still are some dangers. The extreme cold poses a threat and triggered major precautions around the state.

For an interactive graphic about the record low temperatures around the country, go to postandcourier.com/deepfreeze.

What to do


Leave water dripping a bit from faucets to keep water lines from freezing. Seal windows and doors as much as possible. Outside, wear thermal clothing in layers. Frostbite can occur within 30 minutes in these conditions, according to weather.com. Hypothermia, loss of body heat, is a threat.

Power


The cold has pushed off the rain and the risk of ice build-up, but winds could still break tree limbs that snap power lines.

Heating tip


Keep thermostats at least at 65 degrees to protect pipes.

Outages/downed lines


Call 1-888-333-4465 for electricity, 1-800-815-0083 for natural gas.

Outage response time


Depends on numbers, reasons for outages. Crews are dispatched on a priority basis. Check the SCE&G website for details or SCE&G social media.

School delays


Berkeley County School District and Dorchester County School District 2 will operate on a three-hour delay Tuesday. and Charleston County School District and Colleton County School District will have a two-hour delay. All staff and students are to report to schools at those delayed times rather than the normal schedule.

In Charleston County, morning and afternoon 4-year-old kindergarten classes are canceled. Any midday special education classes are also canceled. The extended day program will operate as normal.

Check with your private school administration for any delays.

Fire safety


Take care when you use alternate power or heat sources, such as generators 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.

Driving safety




South Carolina Highway Patrol officials warn drivers to watch out for any wet roadways, where black ice can form. Sgt. Bob Beres said their department is working with the S.C. Department of Transportation in the event that roadways ice up, to sand them down.

Beres said any drivers who plan to travel should pack a blanket and extra food in their vehicles. He also urged drivers who see anyone's car broken down on the highway to dial *HP for assistance.

Pets


Bring them indoors. Set up a protected shelter with a blanket and wind protection for any animals that cannot be brought indoors.

Bang loudly on your hood before starting your car. Outdoor or homeless cats often seek the warmth of a car engine. When the motor is started, a cat huddled there can be injured or killed by the fan belt.

The airport


Frigid weather was affecting flights to and from the Northeast and Midwest Monday. Cancellations affected flights to or from Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Newark and New York. Passengers should check with airlines before leaving for the airport, officials said.

Records


The record low for Jan. 7 was 22 degrees in 1959.

The homeless


Crisis Ministries has implemented its cold weather policy, according to spokesperson Amy Zeigler. The shelter was working Monday to increase the number of beds available in the Men's Shelter and Family Center.

Charleston County Sheriff's officials also offered shelter in the Sheriff Cannon Detention Center. The jail offered shelter to the homeless or anyone who didn't have a place to go in order to protect themselves from the cold at its work camp on Leeds Avenue in North Charleston Monday night. Three people stayed over Monday night, according to Maj. Eric Watson. The sheriff's office will be opening the work camp for those who need shelter again tonight. They can hold up to 150 people. Watson said officials will not conduct background checks on those who wish to stay. They will also offer a bag lunch tonight and a hot meal in the morning, according to Watson.

Forecast


Some of the coldest temperatures in years settled in the state Tuesday morning.

Counties across South Carolina opened emergency shelters for those who needed a warm place to stay.

Low temperatures early Tuesday ranged from 6 degrees in Rock Hill to 21 degrees in Charleston and Hilton Head Island. Wind chill readings ranged from 6 in Rock Hill to 21 at Charleston and Hilton Head.

The cold led a number of school districts to delay opening so children did not have to wait for the bus in the coldest pre-dawn hours.

Forecasters say much of the state will stay below freezing throughout the day Tuesday.

The bitter cold won't last. Forecasters expect highs in the upper 50s and 60s by this weekend.

The low Tuesday night is forecast to be 18-20 degrees again in the Lowcountry, with the high Tuesday in the mid-30s.

On Wednesday, the high temperature is expected to be in the upper 40s, but wind will make it feel like 12 degrees in the morning, according to forecasters with the National Weather Service. The danger of freezing pipes remains on Wednesday, according to Steve Naglic, with the National Weather Service office in Columbia.

Temperatures are expected to rise on Thursday to the 60s, with lows in the mid-40s, forecasters said. By Friday, the temperatures level a bit with lows in the 50s expected throughout the weekend.



The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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