Storm not yet finished

February 12, 2014

Residents Richmond County and the rest of the Sandhills region aren’t quite out of the woods yet as a second storm is on its way.

Up to two inches of snow fell on most of the area starting early Tuesday morning, making the rush hour commute more interesting than usual. Worse, the storm was several hours ahead of a timeline established by weather experts. Richmond County Schools opened at about 7:45 a.m. Tuesday and closed less than two hours later, sending students home for the rest of Tuesday as well as Wednesday. No word yet on Thursday’s classes. Richmond County College also is closed today.

While Tuesday evening was dry and residents woke up to relatively dry and clear roads Wednesday morning, part two of the storm is expected to begin anytime. The National Weather Service indicates an arctic air mass will continue to build into the region from the north as a low pressure system develops along the Gulf Coast, moving northeast along the Carolina coast tonight and into early Thursday morning.

Snow will begin to accumulate Wednesday morning before turning to a mix of sleet and freezing rain this evening, according to the National Weather Service. Snow accumulation could total between 3 and 6 inches along with a quarter-inch to a half-inch of ice — making Thursday morning’s commute potentially dangerous.

Authorities project, if the forecast comes through predicted, downed trees and widespread power outages across the region possibly beginning as early as this afternoon. Officials warn power could be out for more than a day if a half-inch of ice accumulates.

Richmond County Commissioners on Tuesday declared a state of emergency and opened up two shelters, though before midnight Tuesday it closed the Ellerbe location. As of 9 a.m. Wednesday, the shelter at Richmond Senior High School remains open to the public for those without heat or power, though Duke Energy currently reports there are no Richmond County residents without power due to weather.

For those needing a ride to the shelter, call 910-417-4948.