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Upstate SC braces for snow, ice this weekend

Snowfall in Falls Park in January 2017

Snow covers the banks of the Reedy River in Falls Park in downtown Greenville in January 2017. Eric Connor/staff

Jan. 14 update: The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch from the night of Jan. 15 through the evening of Jan. 16. 

The latest update calls for between 2 and 5 inches of sleet, snow and ice in the Upstate, with a heavier mix of ice south of Interstate 85.

Hazardous road conditions and power outages are likely with the heavier mix of ice. The forecast will be updated again Friday afternoon.

Previous coverage:

GREENVILLE — The Upstate is bracing for what forecasters say could be up to a foot of snow in some areas by the time the worst of a winter storm blows through on Sunday, Jan. 16.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning late afternoon Jan. 13 that cautioned roads could be impassable in some areas through Monday as the Upstate is poised to get as much snow as it has in five years.

The highest snowfall totals are expected in the higher elevations of the foothills — as much as 12 inches, meteorologist Jeffrey Taylor said.

The bulk of the lower elevations in the Upstate should expect between 5 and 7 inches, Taylor said, and unlike some snow events that are split by the classic Interstate 85 dividing line where areas north see accumulation and areas south see almost none, people south of the interstate could see up to 6 inches.

The highest snowfall total recorded in the Greenville and Spartanburg area is 12 inches during the infamous 1988 snowstorm. The last significant snowstorm in the Upstate was in January 2017, when as much as 6 inches accumulated.

The storm will include some freezing rain and sleet but mostly snow as the system drops the bulk of precipitation throughout the day Sunday, Taylor said.

"The forecast is trending toward snow more than freezing rain," he said.

First responders and utility providers were already gearing up for the storm four days out.

Duke Energy has begun staging repair crews in Asheville and Florence to deploy wherever the storm has impacted most, which typically involves downed trees knocking out power lines, company spokesman Ryan Mosier said.

"We are bringing in crews from our operations in the Midwest and Florida, and we have an additional 1,000 contract line workers from other utilities on their way," Mosier said.

The city of Greenville will begin on Saturday pre-treating roads and streets to cut down on slippery conditions, spokeswoman Beth Brotherton said.

Along with imploring people to prepare for potential power outages, Brotherton said first responders are asking that anyone stay home if at all possible so that police can respond to fewer accidents and public works can clear roadways.

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"The big thing is, as everybody will say, stay off the roads," she said. "We encourage people to stay home so the people who need to can do the work."

Greenville County won't pre-treat roads because most are secondary roads, spokesman Bob Mihalic said.

"Our major concern is the trees on the roads that usually come into play, so that could be something we're dealing with on Monday, but we'll have to wait and see," Mihalic said.

The county's response crews are making sure vehicles are topped off with gas and chainsaws and generators and the like working, he said.

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Follow Eric on Twitter at @cericconnor.

Reporter/Local Editor

Eric is a reporter and local editor for The Post and Courier in Greenville. Previously with The Greenville News, he's covered the Upstate for two decades and served as a USA TODAY correspondent. He studied journalism at the University of South Carolina.

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