Charleston and North Charleston barely got enough snow to measure Wednesday, but the ice was enough to shut down the cities and send residents scrambling outside into a rare winter wonderland.
Schools, government offices and many medical offices were closed because of icy roads and bridges.
That's the bad news. The good news is people got to build tiny snowmen and slide down hills on those foam body boards usually seen on the beaches, and capture their frolicking in photos that come only every few years around here. The last time Charleston got enough snow to take a picture of was December 2010.
A freezing rain fell most of Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, and that's what caused the problems in an area connected by many bridges. Both bridges between Mount Pleasant and Charleston were closed Wednesday morning. The Don Holt Bridge (over I-526) reopened at 3:30 p.m. The Ravenel Bridge remained closed.
People couldn't even walk or bike across the Ravenel Bridge after a pedestrian fell and police closed the pedestrian and bike lane. Officials told walkers and bikers to stay off the bridge because of the danger of icicles falling on them from the overhead cables.
The Isle of Palms Connector and the Stono Bridge between Johns Island and James Island were also closed Wednesday morning and reopened later in the day.
The Ashley River bridge between downtown Charleston and West Ashley remained open, thanks to continuous work by Department of Transportation sanding crews.
The most snow fell in Berkeley County, where up to half an inch was reported, according to the National Weather Service. A third of an inch was measured in Summerville. Most places around Charleston got a dusty smattering of the white stuff. The ice didn't melt, because the mercury never rose above freezing during the day.
The weight of the ice broke tree limbs during the night, which brought down power lines, which cut off electricity to thousands of households around the Lowcountry. Nearly 10,000 households served by Berkeley Electric Cooperative lost power. About 8,000 S.C. Electric & Gas customers lost power, but that includes the Midlands as well as the Lowcountry.
The streets of Charleston were eerily quiet Wednesday, as CARTA buses stayed in their sheds.
More than 50 flights at Charleston International Airport were canceled.
Hospitals canceled outpatient services, although emergency rooms remained open.
Production at the Boeing airliner plant in North Charleston came to a halt as the first two shifts were canceled.
Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.