A winter storm watch for the north Midlands has been expanded to Richland and Lexington counties, with the warnings for the north Midlands upgraded to an ice storm warning, the National Weather Service announced during a briefing Friday afternoon.
The weather service anticipates significant ice accumulation, between a quarter to a half-inch, from freezing rain across the north Midlands beginning late Saturday night.
Chesterfield, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lancaster and Newberry counties are now under an ice storm warning. Richland, Lexington, Lee, Saluda and Sumter counties have been put under a winter storm watch.
Freezing rain is the weather service’s primary concern, making travel nearly impossible in the north Midlands Sunday morning. That freezing rain could reach the Columbia area by 3 a.m. and last until 1 p.m. Sunday, John Quagliariello with the National Weather Service Columbia said in the briefing Friday afternoon.
There is a risk for black ice Monday morning, after a wet Sunday and a cold Sunday night.
Temperatures will almost certainly fall below freezing for residents around and north of the I-20 corridor Saturday and Sunday nights.
The cold weather brings with it the risk for house fires if residents using space heaters and fireplaces aren’t paying attention, State Fire Marshal Johnathan Jones said in a release.
“Each season brings with it changes in the weather and temperature,” Jones said. “However, the risk of fire always increases any time heaters are turned on and fireplaces are in use. As such, we need to remain vigilant about fire safety. Especially since our statistics reveal more home fires occur during the winter months than during any other part of the year.”
Last winter, six people died in heating-related house fires across South Carolina, according to Jones.
Jones urges residents to keep anything flammable away from space heaters and fireplaces, and to not leave heating appliances on unattended.