MYRTLE BEACH — Much of the Grand Strand woke up to a light coating of snow Thursday morning but the ice underneath from hours of freezing rain the day before ensured travel continued to be treacherous.
Officials from Georgetown to Little River warned motorists to stay off the roads and to slow down if they had to make a trip.
Coatings of white powder concealed ice at least a quarter-of-an-inch thick on some parts of Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach.
In North Myrtle Beach, parts of U.S. Highway 17 were closed due to icy conditions.
Government offices and schools in Horry and Georgetown counties remained shuttered Thursday, and Georgetown County and Horry County schools also canceled classes Friday. Coastal Carolina University announced it would operate on a delay on Friday, while Horry Georgetown Technical College remained closed.
The winter storm, which dumped as much as six inches in the Charleston area Wednesday and promised to pummel the northeast United States, fell far below forecasters' predicted snow totals along most of the Grand Strand.
The City of Georgetown reported four inches of snow, but areas on the coast north of there saw little more than a dusting after freezing rain converted to snow late Wednesday, a far cry from the multiple inches predicted by local meteorologists and the Wilmington, N.C., office of the National Weather Service.
Steve Pfaff, of the NWS, said a band of dry air persisted in Horry County over the coast from Green Sea to Bucksport, limiting snowfall between that line and the ocean. The unexpected development made the storm a "quagmire" to forecast, he said, but the results are largely the same: roads in the area are dangerous.
"I just don't think the models have the precision to show a 20-mile band of dry air hanging on. The science just isn't there," Pfaff said.
However, he said "the way that the impacts were expressed, I think that saves lives. Don't focus on the numbers, focus on what the impacts mean."
The northern and western reaches of Horry County did see measurable snowfall, with two to three inches in Aynor, Pfaff said.
There was just enough snow for Cann Blanchard, 11, and his sister Sabrina, 16, to sled down 63rd Avenue North in Myrtle Beach.
Bruce Blanchard said the family's warped, orange plastic sled hadn't been used since his daughter was 2 years old, but "it'll have to do."
Cann and Sabrina tried to steer the sled away from the intersection with Ocean Boulevard, which was mostly abandoned, save for the occasional car or golf cart. Both children had seen snow before on ski trips, but Cann said it was the first time he had seen it in his hometown.
One block north on the beach, Karl Thompson was flying a drone to capture footage of snow on top of the sand before the rising sun melted it away.
Thompson, a Myrtle Beach native, said he'd seen more snow the area only one or twice before.
As cold weather is expected to persist through Monday, Pfaff said he expected snow and ice melting on Thursday to refreeze and possibly develop into black ice, which is difficult to spot on roadways. He said motorists will need to continue to use caution for days to come.