Winter returns to South Carolina with snow, freezing rain; another storm expected Wednesday



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CHARLESTON, South Carolina — Winter weather returned to South Carolina on Tuesday, bringing snow to the Upstate and Midlands, freezing rain to the coast and causing many schools to cancel classes or open late.

With more than 2 inches of snow in some places, a second storm expected to move in Wednesday promised to bring even more.

The National Weather Service in Greer posted a winter storm watch for much of the Upstate and forecasters predicted another 5 to 7 inches of snow Wednesday night into Thursday.

Lawmakers in Columbia, anticipating the bad weather, voted to take Thursday off. The forecast for Columbia, the Midlands and areas to the east is for rain from the second storm.

Tuesday winter weather advisories that had been issued for much of the state expired about midday, with the exception of the south Midlands and Pee Dee. A freezing rain advisory for Charleston and outlying counties was to expire late Tuesday.

The weather was causing problems for travelers.

"The roads are dangerous," said Richard Young, a 53-year-old truck driver from Henderson, North Carolina, who stopped at a shopping center in Travelers Rest on his way to Greenville. He said it took him two hours, instead of the usual one, to drive from Asheville, North Carolina.

"I saw a lot of cars, slipping and sliding. When you're going down those hills, you got to go real slow," he said.

Lee Carrell, 36, of Travelers Rest wasn't expecting snow until later in the day.

"I know it doesn't' seem like much when you compare it to what they've gotten up north," he said. "But you get a few inches and you have to drive in it down here, people panic."

In the Myrtle Beach area, media and law enforcement agencies reported several bridges were closed for several hours because of ice and accidents, and roads in rural areas inland were icy. Power companies across the state reported only a handful of outages.

By midday the storm brought 2.5 inches of snow to Pickens County and 1.6 inches to Greenville County. There was a dusting in the many areas in the Midlands.

A National Weather Service advisory said low pressure would form in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday morning and track northeast into the Carolinas.

It said while the storm was expected to bring significant snowfall, its track was still uncertain and winter storm warnings could be posted later.

A watch means there's a potential for heavy snow and ice. A warning means the storm is bringing, or will bring, heavy snow and ice.

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Associated Press writer Mitch Weiss contributed to this report from Travelers Rest, South Carolina.

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